COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers meet in a battle of first place squads. Both teams are 5-1 in league play with Texas A&M leading the Western Division standings and Missouri tied with Vanderbilt atop the Eastern Division. The contest matches two of the top pitching staffs in the nation. The Aggies lead the SEC with 1.76 ERA and Missouri enters the fray with a 2.28 ERA, which ranks second in the league. Fridayâs starting pitchers shared SEC Pitcher of the Week last week. Texas A&Mâs GRAYSON LONG is 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA and Missouriâs Reggie McClain is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA. Among SEC teams, the it is the most contested series for the Aggies with 80 meetings.
#2 TEXAS A&M AGGIES (25-1, 5-1 SEC) vs. MISSOURI TIGERS (19-7, 5-1 SEC)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) â¢ College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE – Friday – 6:35 pmÂ â¢Â Saturday – 1:05 pmÂ â¢Â Sunday – 1:05 pm
TELEVISION - Saturday – SEC NetworkÂ â¢Â Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Gabe Gross (color analyst)
RADIO – Sports Radio 1150 The ZoneÂ â¢Â Dave South (play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO – SEC Network+ (WatchESPN credentials required through cable provider) Friday & Sunday – Will Johnson (play-by-play), Mark Johnson (color analyst)
LIVE AUDIO – 12thMan.comÂ â¢Â radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS – 12thMan.com
RANKINGS - Texas A&M – 1 (CB), 2 (USAT), 3 (D1B), 3 (BA), 3 (NCBWA); Missouri – 23 (CB)
SERIES HISTORY – Texas A&M leads 47-32. The Aggies have won the last three games
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
â¢ FRIDAY:Â #38 Grayson Long (Jr., RHP, 5-0, 2.08 ERA) vs. #24 Reggie McClain (Jr., RHP, 4-1, 1.74 ERA)
â¢ SATURDAY:Â #14 Kyle Simonds (Jr., RHP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. #11 Tanner Houck (Fr., RHP, 3-1, 3.02 ERA)
â¢ SUNDAY:Â #31 Matt Kent (Jr., LHP, 5-, 3.20 ERA) vs. #37 Peter Fairbanks (Jr, RHP, 2-2, 1.82 ERA)
1,000 WINS AT OLSEN FIELD
With their win in the Saturday game against Auburn, the Aggies secured their 1,000th win at the friendly confines of Olsen Field. Playing their 38th season at the now-Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, the Maroon and White are 1,002-324-4 (.755) at the corner of George Bush Drive and Olsen Boulevard.
The Aggies have been producing plenty of big innings early in the 2015 campaign. The Maroon and White have scored multiple runs in 53 of their 216 innings on the year. Texas A&M has 32 innings with at least three runs and 15 âBig Inningsâ with at least four runs. Twice in 2015, A&M has logged seven runs, including the second inning of the season opener against Holy Cross and in the seventh inning of the second game of the year. The Aggies have batted through the lineup six times this season, including twice in the Aggiesâ 11-2 win against Prairie View A&M.
TEXAS A&M/MISSOURI SERIES NOTABLES
Texas A&M and Missouri have met on 80 prior occasions with the Aggies owning a 47-32-1 edge in the all-time series.
The teams did not play in 2014. The Aggies swept the series in College Station in 2013, the first season the two squads played in the SEC. The Maroon and White started the series with one-run wins on Friday (2-1) and Saturday (6-5) and registered a 4-1 victory in the finale. In the Friday game, Missouri got a leadoff single which originally came around to score, but the Tigers managed just one more hit the remainder of the game as Daniel Mengden struck out 10 in 8.0 innings. The Aggies rallied for two runs in the fourth to clinch the opener. The Saturday game featured a collapse by Missouri. The Tigers led 5-3 going to bottom of the ninth, but A&M took advantage of four Missouri errors to clinch the series. In the finale, Rafael Pineda, MATT KENT and Jason Jester combined to hold the Tigers to six hits and one unearned run.
As members of the Big 12 Conference, the teams have met every season from 1997-2012. In 2012, the Aggies won two-of-three from the Tigers at Blue Bell Park during the regular season, but Missouri scored a 5-3 win at the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In the three-game series, Kyle Martin earned a pair of wins in relief. Rafael Pineda started the Sunday affair, allowing just one run on five hits and one walk while striking out four over 6.0 innings. Mikey Reynolds hit .333 (4-for-12) with three runs, one double, two RBI and three stolen bases. In the 5-3 loss at the Big 12 Championship, Mitchell Nau accounted for all three of A&Mâs RBI.
MORE ON MISSOURI
The Tigers are 19-7 on the year and are tied atop the SEC Eastern Division standings with a 5-1 record. Mizzou has series sweeps against Iona (four-game), UIC and Georgia. The Tigers also boast a series win against Georgia and won two of three at the Kleberg Bank College Classic in Corpus Christi.
Missouriâs engine is powered by the pitching staff. The Tigers boast a 2.29 ERA, are holding opponents to a .205 batting average and have 194 strikeouts in 224.0 innings. Two weekend starters boast sub-2.00 ERAs, including Reggie McClain (4-1, 1.74 ERA) and Peter Fairbanks (2-2, 1.82 ERA). Closer Breckin Williams is 4-0 with six saves and a 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances.
Missouri is hitting .250 as a team, but have been active on the base paths with 42 stolen bases, led by Brett Peel with 15. Brett Bond leads the team in hitting with a .291 average, three home runs and 11 RBI. Josh Lester is batting .289 with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 21 RBI. Peel is hitting .269 with five doubles, one triple and seven RBI.
The Tigers have made six College World Series appearances, all between 1952-64. Missouri won the 1954 College World Series. They have made 22 NCAA Championship appearances, including eight since 2003.
Missouri boasts 49 former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is headlined by four-time MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler and 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.
FRIDAYâS PROBABLE STARTER:Â #38 GRAYSON LONG
SEC Pitcher of the Week twice in 2015… in his last outing, fanned 14 of the 23 batters he faced in 6.0 innings at Alabama… named Most Outstanding Player at the Houston College Classic two weeks ago, scattering three hits and striking out a then career-high 10 batters without a walk in a 6-0 win against No. 16 Houston… in his four three starts heâs 4-0 with a 0.72 ERA, 24 strikeouts and a 0.88 WHIP… enters play as the Aggiesâ active leader in wins (15), innings pitched (170.0) and strikeouts (136)… led the Aggiesâ with six wins last season… also ranked second on A&M with 15 starts and 89.1 innings pitched… started his sophomore campaign by allowing just one run in his first five starts, scattering 22 hits and 10 walks while striking out 22 batters in 34.0 innings… last season he earned SEC wins against Auburn, Florida, eventual national champion Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State, posting a 5-2 record in league action.
LONGâS CAREER TOTALS
SATURDAYâS PROBABLE STARTER:Â #14 KYLE SIMONDS
Making his first career start… has not allowed an earned run in in his 20.2 innings of work… did not allow a run in his first 16 innings of action… earned a win in his last outing, pitching 5.0 innings of relief at Alabama, allowing one unearned run on two hits while striking out four… earned a save in his first career appearance, retiring 12 of the 13 batters he faced, including four strikeouts, in series opener against Holy Cross… picked up his first career win against UTPA, scattering two hits and one walk while striking out one in 2.1 innings… owns a 2.57-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.87 WHIP… tabbed the 2014 NJCAA Division I Pitcher of the Year at Hutchinson Community College.
SIMONDSâ CAREER TOTALS
SUNDAYâS PROBABLE STARTER:Â #31 MATT KENT
Named to the Houston College Classic All-Tournament team two weeks ago as he stymied Baylor hitters for the better part of 7.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out nine… leads Texas A&M with four wins… owns a 16.5-to-1 K/BB ratio in 2015 and 7.12-to-1 for his career… opened season with a win against Holy Cross, yielding just one unearned run on five hits while striking out three in 7.0 innings of work… prior to this season, both of his prior weekend starts came as a freshman in 2013, losses to Arkansas and LSU… was 1-0 with a 2.77 in his four starts as a sophomore… has had success in long relief against SEC squads in the past including 5.0 scoreless innings at Mississippi State in 2014 and 5.0 blank frames at Ole Miss in 2013… his effort against Ole Miss in 2013 earned him SEC Freshman of the Week recognition.
KENTâS CAREER TOTALS
Kyle Simonds marks the only player on the squad to not play high school baseball. Simonds spent his springs at Grand Island (Neb.) Central Catholic High School playing golf. Skilled on the links, Simonds qualified for the Nebraska Class C state tournament all four years, finishing 11th at the championship as a junior. He got his share of baseball in the summers staring for American Legion squad Home Federal. He went 2-for-2 with one double, one home run and three RBI at the Cornhusker League All-Star Game in July 2012.
Simonds honed his pitching skills at Hutchinson Community College where he blossomed last year. As a sophomore, he was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Pitcher of the Year, posting a 13-0 record (13 wins led the nation) and a 2.30 ERA. He broke single season school records for wins (13), complete-games (nine), shutouts (three) and strikeouts (103) in 2014.
The northpaw has been impressive in his eight appearances this season. Simonds has not yielded an earned run in 20.2 innings, striking out 18 and scattering 11 hits and seven walks. In his first career outing, he retired 12 of 13 batters he faced with the only batter reaching base on a HBP, blanking Holy Cross for 4.0 innings with four strikeouts. Simonds scattered three hits over 2.1 innings against Stephen F. Austin, striking out four. He blanked Penn State for two frames in the series opener and pitched two innings of A&Mâs 6-0 shutout of then-No. 16 Houston at the Houston College Classic. Simonds earned his first career win working 2.1 innings, scattering two hits and one walk while striking out one in a 4-1 victory against UTPA. Last Saturday, Simonds worked 5.0 innings of relief, allowing one unearned run to help the Aggiesâ secure their 24th consecutive win, setting an SEC record.
In the Aggiesâ 3-2 win against Baylor, A&Mâs bullpen had a string of stranding 18 consecutive inherited runners snapped. The Aggie relievers have still been rather salty on the season, allowing just eight of 45 inherited runners to score. TY SCHLOTTMANN has been the most tested out of the bullpen and he has been up to the task, stranding 14 of his 15 inherited runners. ANDREW VINSON has left seven of the nine ducks he inherited on the pound. KYLE SIMONDS has stranded five of the six runners he has inherited and JASON FREEMAN has stranded all four inherited runners. Against Prairie View A&M, Aggie relievers entered the game with seven baserunners, including bases loaded on two occasions, and they didnât yield a run.
The Aggie bullpen has been tested more frequently as the season has progressed and are stepping up to the challenge. Thirteen pitchers have combined to work 96.0 innings out of the bullpen, posting a 9-0 record, nine saves, a 1.03 ERA, 62 hits and 24 walks while striking out 91. The bullpen sports a WHIP of 0.90, opponent batting average of .186 and a 3.79-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At the Houston College Classic, the bullpen allowed just one hit in 7.2 innings of scoreless relief.
KYLE SIMONDS has worked the most innings, weaving 20.2 frames, allowing just one unearned run on 11 hits and seven walks while striking out 18 in eight appearances. He is 2-0 and owns one of the Aggiesâ eight saves, a four-inning outing in the season opener against Holy Cross. TY SCHLOTTMANN has been called on the most, with 14 appearances. The southpaw has worked 15.0 frames, earning a 2-0 record with 0.60 ERA, scattering nine hits and two walks while striking out 12. He has stranded 14 of 15 inherited baserunners. Eighth-inning set-up man ANDREW VINSON and dual closers RYAN HENDRIX and MARK ECKER have combined to work 34.0 innings without allowing an earned run â Vinson is 2-0, allowing four hits while striking out 10 over 12.2 innings in 12 outings; Hendrix has five saves and has allowed one unearned run, scattering nine hits and four walks while striking out 10 over 11.1 innings in nine outings; Ecker has three saves and has allowed just two unearned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 15 over 9.0 innings in nine outings.
SEEMS LIKE JUST LAST YEAR
Texas A&M is averaging 2.2 more runs per game and sporting a batting average .025 higher than the same point last season. Hereâs a comparison of the Aggies offensive numbers through 25 games in 2014 and 2015.
|Runs Per Game
â¢ On March 7, NICK BANKS had a career-long 13-game hit streak snapped. The sophomore batted .438 (21-for-48) with four doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI over the span. Banks has logged hits in 23 of the 25 games heâs played this season.
â¢ NICK BANKS has reached base (via walk, HBP or hit) in all 25 game heâs played in 2015. He owns a .491 on-base percentage with 40 hits, 11 walks and two HBP over the span.
â¢ RYNE BIRK enters the series with a six-game hit streak. He is batting .318 (7-for-22) over the span with three doubles and six RBI. He also has six walks during the stretch for a .464 on-base percentage.
â¢Â RONNIE GIDEON enters the series with a six-game hit streak. He is batting .480 (12-for-25) over the span with two doubles, one home run and eight RBI.
â¢Â KYLE SIMONDS has a streak of 20.2 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run, covering eight outings. He has allowed one unearned run, scattering 11 hits and seven walks while striking out 18 over the span.
â¢ RYAN HENDRIX has not allowed an earned run in nine outings in 2015, covering 11.1 innings. He has allowed one unearned run on nine hits and four walks while striking out 10 over the span.
â¢ TY SCHLOTTMANN has stranded the last 12 runners he has inherited. For the season, he has stranded 14 of the 15 runners he has inherited.
â¢ TY SCHLOTTMANN has retired the first batter he has faced in each of his last 10 appearances.
â¢ ANDREW VINSON is unscored upon in 12 outings in 2015, covering 12.2 innings. Heâs scattered four hits while striking out 10 over the span.
â¢ MARK ECKER has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 career outings, covering 14.0 innings. Heâs scattered five hits and four walks while striking out 19 over the span.
â¢ MATT KENT was the first Aggie pitcher since Brooks Raley in 2008 to register a win in each of his first five starts in a season.
â¢ After starting the season 0-for-14, PATRICK MCLENDON has a hit in each of his last three at-bats.
â¢ The Aggies have scored 10 or more runs in four of their last seven games.
â¢ The Aggies own a 20-game win streak at Blue Bell Park dating back to the 2014 season. It marks the Aggiesâ longest home win streak since they won 21 in a row at Olsen Field in 1990. The school record is 39 consecutive games between 1988-89.
â¢ Prior to the ninth inning at UTSA, the Aggie bullpen strung together 34.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The relievers held opponents to 18 hits and 14 walks while striking out 35 over the span.
A FRIDAY NIGHT FIX
One of the things that doomed the Aggies in 2014 was an inability to win the opening game of the weekend. Last year, A&M struggled the first night of series, going 3-11 in openers (3-13 if you count the SEC Tournament and NCAA Houston Regional). This season, the Maroon and White have already exceeded the opening night win tally with a 6-0 mark. On Friday nights, the Aggies are batting .288 and they have hit 11 of their 21 home runs. The pitching staff owns a 1.00 ERA and is holding opponents to a .168 batting average in series/tournament openers. Last year, A&M hit .227 in their series openers, averaging just 3.21 runs per game. The pitching staff posted a 3.62 ERA and yielded a .249 batting average to foes.
The Aggies are outscoring opponents a combined 60-16 in the first two innings of games, including 34-13 in first innings and 26-3 in second innings.
In the first inning of games, the Aggies are batting .360 (40-for-111) with a .475 on-base percentage and .495 slugging percentage. The Maroon and White have drawn 24 walks and have been hit by two pitches. The extra-base hits include 10 doubles, one triple and one home run.
In the first inning of games, the A&M pitching staff has held opponents to a .265 batting average (27-for-102) and have struck out 32 of the 113 batters theyâve faced (28.3%).
In the second inning of games, the Aggies are batting .314 (32-for-102) with a .415 on-base percentage and .529 slugging percentage. The Maroon and White have drawn 14 walks and have been hit by five pitches. The extra-base hits include five doubles, one triple and five home runs.
In the second inning of games, the A&M pitching staff has held opponents to a .238 batting average (24-for-101) and have struck out 30 of the 105 batters theyâve faced (28.6%).
KENT HARDLY WAIT
MATT KENT was a consistent performer in the first five weeks of the season. At 5-0, he is tied with for the SEC in victories on the mound. He is the first starting pitcher since Brooks Raley, in 2008, to earn a win in each of their first five starts in a season. During the stretch, the crafty southpaw has impeccable command with 33 strikeouts and just two walks on the season.
With a no-decision last week, Kent is still 5-0 on the season. He owns a 3.20 ERA and has allowed just three walks while striking out 34 in 39.1 innings of work.
The Aggie pitching staff has yet to yielded just three earned run in the ninth inning or extra innings, a body of work that includes 27.0 innings and all three of the earned runs have come with Texas A&M leading by eight or more runs. The bullpen, which has yielded just two runs, one unearned, in the ninth inning and extra frames, has allowed just 17 hits and nine walks in the 26.2 innings, with 32 strikeouts. MARK ECKER has accounted for 9.0 innings, yielding only two hits and one walk while striking out 12. RYAN HENDRIX has worked 8.0 innings, allowing one unearned run, scattering seven hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Texas A&M has outscored opponents 70-17 combined in innings 7-9 plus extra innings, including 30-3 in the seventh inning and 36-10 in the eighth inning. Opponents are outscoring the Aggies 4-3 in the ninth inning, but A&M has batted in the ninth just six times while the foe has gotten their ninth-inning hacks in 25 of the 26 games. Texas A&M is outscoring opponents 1-0 in extra innings.
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
The Aggiesâ bullpen has been nearly untouchable the last four weekends. The crew has combined to work 38.1 without yielding an earned run over the span. The bullpen has allowed a total of four unearned runs the last four weekends, allowing just 15 hits and 11 walks while striking out 35. Over the span, the relievers are holding opponents to a .118 batting average and boast a 0.68 WHIP.
MORE BULLPEN NOTES
In the last 20 games, the Aggie bullpen has allowed eight runs, just four earned, in 74.0 innings of work dating back to the Sunday contest against Penn State. The relief pitchers have scattered 41 hits and 21 walks while striking out 69 over the span. The run includes eight bullpen wins and eight saves. The stretch included a string of 23.0 consecutive innings without yielding a run and a 34.2-inning string of not allowing an earned run that was snapped against UTSA. Aggie relievers own a 0.49 ERA and have held opponents to a .163 batting average over the span.
The Aggie pitching staff was the talk of the Houston College Classic. The staff combined to post a 0.67 ERA and hold opponents to a .156 batting average during the tournament. A&M allowed three runs, just two earned, in 27.0 innings of work. The Aggies came two botched pickoff attempts away from allowing just one run total for the three games. The staff sported a 7.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (30/4) and a miniscule 0.67 WHIP.
Aggie starting pitchers have been solid in 2015, posting a 16-1 record with a 2.27 ERA after 25 games. A&M starters are holding opponents to a .237 batting and boast a 4.25-to-1 strikeouts-to-walk ratio (153/36). After a rough outing his first time out, GRAYSON LONG has regrouped in his last five starts. Over the span, he is 5-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 31.0 innings of work. He has allowed just five runs, three earned, on 19 hits and eight walks while striking out 38 during the stretch. Matt Kent is 5-0 with a 3.20 ERA, allowing 17 runs, 14 earned, in 39.1 innings of work. The junior lefty boasts four of A&Mâs five longest starts. He has issued just three walks on the season, while striking out 34. Out for the remainder of the season, AJ Minter (2-0) was a star the first four weeks, posting a 0.43 ERA, has held opponents to a .213 batting average and has allowed just six runs, one earned, while striking out 29 in 21.0 innings over his first four starts.
The Aggies already have 22 home runs on the season. Last year, A&M didnât hit their 22nd home run until the 54th game of the season and hit just 25 home runs on the year. The Aggies had just nine home runs at this point in the season in 2014. A&M has hit 11 of their 21 home runs on Friday nights. On Tuesday night, RONNIE GIDEON hit a three-run home run to snap a six-game homerless string for the Aggies. It marked the longest drought of the season for A&M.
MEN IN BLACK
The Aggies have a new black uniform in their wardrobe for the 2015 season. The squad is only permitted to wear the jerseys for games in which they are trying to complete a series sweep. They have had the opportunity to don the black unis on seven occasions this season, going 6-1. The uniforms have been especially friendly to the pitching staff that owns a 1.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 64.0 innings of work in the look.
Starting with the three-game series at Alabama, 24 of Texas A&Mâs last 34 games will be against teams that advanced to the 2014 NCAA Championship. The gauntlet includes seven SEC weekend series against NCAA tournament teams, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina, two games against Sam Houston State and one game against Rice. The Aggies are currently 3-1 in the stretch.
Coach Childress has the potential to pencil in a lineup that can include eight players with 16 to 21 RBI. RONNIE GIDEON leads the squad with 21 RBI. HUNTER MELTON, MITCHELL NAU and LOGAN TAYLOR each have 19 ribbies. BLAKE ALLEMAND and RYNE BIRK are one back with 18, followed by NICK BANKS (17) and JB MOSS (16).
The Aggies are 8-0 in midweek action this season, outscoring opponents 54-13. The A&M offense has be highlighted by NICK BANKS, batting .654 (17-for-26) with three doubles and five RBI, and MITCHELL NAU, hitting .476 (10-for-21) with six RBI.
The pitching staff has a 1.34 ERA and the Aggies have 79 strikeouts in 74.0 innings. TURNER LARKINS has started five of the games, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.82 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. The bullpen is 5-0 with three saves and a 0.97 ERA in midweek action.
The Aggies wrap up the brief four-game homestand on Tuesday when they host the Sam Houston State Bearkats in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics