Aggies Travel to No. 16 Rice for Tuesday Tilt

By: TAMU Sports Information Department/Thomas Dick
By: TAMU Sports Information Department/Thomas Dick

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Aggies hit the road for four games in the next five days, all against teams ranked in the Top 25. On Tuesday, the Maroon and White head to Houston to battle old Southwest Conference foe Rice, currently ranked No. 16. The Aggies then travel to Starkville for a three game series against No. 21 Mississippi State from Thursday-Saturday.

Entering the week, Blake Allemand boasts a streak of reaching base in 17 consecutive games. Over the span, the junior is hitting .369 (24-for-65) with 14 runs, two doubles, one triple and 10 RBI. He also owns a .481 on-base percentage with 13 walks and four sacrifice bunts.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (24-17, 8-10 SEC) vs #16 RICE OWLS (29-13, 16-5 C-USA)

Reckling Park (6,193) • Houston, Texas

SCHEDULE – Tuesday 6:30 pm

RADIO – WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South - play-by-play)

LIVE VIDEO – riceowls.com (premium subscription)

LIVE AUDIO – aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)

LIVE STATS – tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)/riceowls.com

RANKINGS – A&M - unranked; Rice- #11 (USAT) / #12 (BA) / #16 (NCBWA) / #19 (CB)

SERIES HISTORY – Texas A&M leads 178-95-2

SERIES STREAKS – Texas A&M won the most recent meeting

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS

• TUESDAY: Corey Ray (Jr., RHP, 3-0, 1.38) vs Chase McDowell (Sr., RHP, 3-3, 3.11)

ALLEMAND ENTERS WITH 17-GAME STREAK REACHING BASE

Blake Allemand has reached base in each of the last 17 games. During the span he boasts a .481 batting average with 13 walks and a .369 batting average (24-for-65). He has 14 runs, two doubles, one triple, 10 RBI, four sacrifice bunts and two stolen bases. He has helped spark an offense that is averaging 6.76 runs per game, up from 5.21 runs per game in the first 24 games.

SCHLOTTMANN SEES INCREASED WORKLOAD
After amassing just 7.2 innings in the Aggies’ first 35 games, Ty Schlottmann has twice logged career-long outings in A&M’s last six games. Since the Maroon and White’s Saturday game at Vanderbilt, Schlottmann has worked 10.0 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out nine and holding opponents to a .147 batting average. He worked 6.2 scoreless innings against Kentucky, holding the Wildcats to two hits and one walk while striking out five. Prior to his 3.1 inning outing against Vanderbilt, Schlottomann’s career-long was 2.1 innings against Houston and he had only worked more than 1.0 inning on four occasions in his first 18 appearances

BREAKOUT WEEK FOR BIRK
Ryne Birk had a breakout week last week with the Aggies’ midweek game against Abilene Christian and three-game series against No. 24 Kentucky. In the four games, he got two starts and hit .636 (7-for-11) with one double and two home runs. In the four games, he logged a 1.273 slugging percentage, seven runs and eight RBI. The week, included a 2-for-4 performance against Kentucky in which he logged a home run and five RBI. Thirty-seven games into the season, Birk appeared in just 14 games with five starts. He hit just .192 (5-for-26) with one double, one triple and three RBI. Despite the limited action, he did have an impact in those first 37 games logging four of his five pinch-hits, including a three-run triple at No. 7 Vanderbilt.

TEXAS A&M/RICE SERIES NOTABLES

Texas A&M and Rice have met on 275 prior occasions with Texas A&M owning a 178-95-2 advantage in the all-time series. Despite A&M’s wide margin in the overall series, Rice has won 31 of the last 42 meetings. Last season, Texas A&M disposed of the Owls, 8-3, in their only meeting, at the Astros Foundation College Classic. Daniel Mengden picked up the win with 8.0 innings of work, allowing three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out eight. Mikey Reynolds led the Aggies with three hits while Blake Allemand knocked in three runs.

MORE ON RICE
The Owls are 29-13 on the year with a 16-5 mark in Conference USA.

Rice is hitting .287 on the season with a .357 on-base percentage and .366 slugging percentage. Four of the Owls’ regulars are hitting over .300, paced by John Clay Reeves with a .351 batting average with 22 runs, seven hits, three home runs and 27 RBI. Shane Hoelscher is batting .333 with 26 runs, 15 doubles and 16 RBI. The top slugger is Skyler Ewing with a .327 batting average, 35 runs, nine doubles, six home runs and 38 RBI.

The Rice pitching staff owns a 2.44 ERA and is holding opponent to a .225 batting average. Tuesday starter Chase McDowell is 3-3 with a 3.11 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 46.1 innings.

The Owls have won 18 consecutive conference titles, including the SWC (1996), Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and Conference USA (2006-12). Rice also has 19 consecutive 40-win seasons. The Owls boast 36 former players who went on to Major League Baseball, headlined by six-time All-Star Lance Berkman, two-time AL batting champion Pete Runnels, former Nasty Boy Norm Charlton and 12-year veteran Jose Cruz Jr.

TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #22 COREY RAY
Making his second start of the season and the 11th of his career. As a sophomore, made six starts going 3-2 with a 4.28 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work... Made three starts as a freshman going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 15.0 innings... This season earned wins in relief against UT Pan American and Columbia... Last week earned a midweek game against Abilene Christian, holding the Wildcats scoreless over 5.0 innings, scattering four hits and one walk while striking out five.

BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 32 games, including 20 starts and 12 games as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 224 career games under his belt, 17 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Over the weekend he passed Robert Harris (222 - 1992-95) and Brian Thomas (223 - 1990-93) fifth place.

As a freshman, Bratsen played in all 69 games, including 68 starts. In 2012, he played in 60 games, including 55 starts. Last season, Bratsen was the only Aggie to start all 63 games.

IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .364 (16-for-44) with four walks, one sacrifice fly, one sac bunt, one double, one triple, one home run and 11 RBI in 50 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-4, one double, one home run, 6 RBI) and Ryne Birk (5-for-10, one triple, 3 RBI) are the top pinch-hitting options. Jace Statum (2-for-5), Krey Bratsen (1-for-1, one sac bunt, 1 RBI), Nick Banks (1-for-2), Nick Choruby (1-for-2), Jonathan Moroney (1-for-7, one sac fly, 1 RBI) and JB Moss (1-for-2, two walks) account for the other seven hits.

BRATSEN STEALING THE SHOW

With his three stolen bases in last Sunday’s game against Kentucky last Sunday, senior Krey Bratsen moved into a tie with Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89) for second place on A&M’s career list for stolen bases. Jason Tyner owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98.

Bratsen stole 31 bases as a freshman, the seventh-best season in school history. As a sophomore he swiped 21 bases and followed up with 18 in 2013.

OFFENSIVE TURNAROUND

After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 28 contests, hitting .302 (302-for-999) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.371) and slugging (.343/.401) numbers are also up over the span. It is starting to translate into a jump in runs as the Aggies scoring has ticked up from 5.15 runs per game in the first 13 contests to 6.17 in the last 28.

BRATSEN GETTING UP TO SPEED
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen took time to get in the groove in 2014. He played in just 16 of A&M’s first 24 games, including seven starts, hitting .219 (7-for-32). Bratsen has heated up to the tune of .350 (14-for-40) over the Aggies’ last 14 contests. His on-base (.306/.365) and slugging (.219/.404) are also up substantially over the span and he owns team-highs with 16 runs and nine stolen bases in the A&M’s 17 games (16 games/13 starts). On the year, Bratsen is batting .278 (22-for-79) with 21 runs, two doubles, one triple, eight RBI and 13 stolen bases.

MENGDEN REACHES 200 STRIKEOUT PLATEAU
In his outing against Alabama, Daniel Mengden reached the 200-strikeout plateau for his career. He is believed to be the 16th player in school history to reach the milestone. He enters the weekend with 208 strikeouts and with one more strikeout, Mengden will tie John Stilson (209 - 2010-11) for 15th place on A&M’s career list. He need 39 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10. Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 from 1997-99.

AGGIES HIT 2,500-WIN MARK
Texas A&M enters the week with a 2,503-1,421-42 mark. At Vanderbilt, the Aggies became the 12th NCAA Division I program and first SEC team to hit the 2,500-win plateau. The last team to reach the milestone was Washington State in 2011. Fellow SEC teams Mississippi State and Alabama both enter the weekend less than 15 wins shy of the plateau and have the possibility of reaching the mark this season.

Postseason Streak Continues into 2014
Prior to the arrival of head coach Rob Childress, Texas A&M had never appeared in the NCAA Tournament more than four consecutive years. Advancing to the NCAA Corvallis Regional in 2013 extended the Aggies string to seven straight years, something that had never happened before in the program’s 112 year history.

Childress has led the Aggies to the postseason each of the last seven seasons, topping the previous-high water mark of four-straight trips, a feat that had happened only twice before at Texas A&M. Former head coach Tom Chandler led his squad to the NCAA Regionals each season from 1975 to 1978 and 11 years later the Aggies enjoyed a similar four-year run from 1986-89 under the direction of head coach Mark Johnson.


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