Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
After dropping a disappointing home series to Pepperdine over the weekend, the Aggies will look to bounce back with a pair of midweek games against the Northwestern State Demons.
Northwestern State (5-2) vs Texas A&M (5-3)
Northwestern State - RHP Zach Krebs (1-1, 10.29 ERA, 7 K, 3 BB)
Texas A&M - RHP Corey Ray (1-0, 5.40 ERA, 8 K, 4 BB)
Northwestern State will start junior Zach Krebs on Tuesday, and he has certainly struggled to start the 2013 season for the Demons. Krebs has made 3 appearances, including one start last Tuesday, but has logged just 7 innings pitched and given up 8 earned runs. Against Louisiana-Lafayette last Tuesday, Krebs lasted just 3 innings and gave up 7 runs (5 earned) on 5 hits with a strikeout and 2 hit batters.
Meanwhile for the Aggies, starter Corey Ray was able to weather some early-inning struggles against Stephen F. Austin last Tuesday and earn his first win of 2013. Ray went 5 1/3 innings and allowed 2 earned runs on just 3 hits with 8 strikeouts, although he walked 2 batters and hit another.
Northwestern State - LHP Andrew Adams (0-0, 5.40 ERA, 7 K, 3 BB)
Texas A&M - RHP Grayson Long (1-0, 1.35 ERA, 7 K, 3 BB)
In the Wednesday afternoon game, the Demons to junior southpaw Andrew Adams, who has started 2 Sunday games this season for Northwestern State but only thrown 5 innings combined in those 2 games. Adams got the start this past Sunday against UT-Pan American but only lasted 1 inning and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) on just 1 hit with 3 walks and a hit batter. Adams did have better control in his previous Sunday start against Grambling, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits in 4 innings, with 7 strikeouts and no walks or hit batters.
Grayson Long will get the ball on Wednesday in his second start for the Aggies, and Grayson will look to build off a strong first start last Wednesday against Texas Southern. Long allowed just 3 hits to the Tigers in 5 2/3 innings of work, giving up 1 earned run while striking out 5 batters and walking 2.
What to Watch For
Northwestern State comes to College Station after taking 2 out of 3 games from UT-Pan American over the weekend. The Demons swept Grambling on Opening Weekend and dropped a 12-3 midweek game to Louisiana-Lafayette, and they are hitting for a combined .238 average as a team. Aggie Baseball fans will remember Northwestern State quite well, with one of the most memorable comebacks of the 2012 season coming against the Demons. Northwestern State lead A&M by a score of 10-1 in the 6th inning before scoring 13 unanswered runs to pick up an incredible 14-10 victory. The Aggies are 6-1 all time against Northwestern State.
The Demons' offense is led by C Nick Purdy and LF/DH Matt Baca, both seniors for Northwestern State. Also keep an eye on SS Edwin Gomez who is tied for the team lead RBI with 6 and leads the team in stolen bases with 3. I would expect the Demons' lineup will look something like this:
2B Toby Cornejo* (.235, .353, .417, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 SB)
3B Garrett Kilgore (.263, .368, .462, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 SB)
LF Will Watson* (.280, .360, .471, 1 3B, 4 RBI)
C Nick Purdy (.393, .500, .424, 3 2B, 4 RBI)
DH Matt Baca (.318, .455, .385, 1 HR, 4 RBI)
SS Edwin Gomez (.259, .333, .344, 2 2B, 6 RBI)
1B Todd Wallace (.222, .407, .382, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
CF Zack Costa (.083, .083, .267, 2 SB)
RF Nathan Lyons (.200, .280, .310, 1 3B, 2 RBI)
On the A&M side of things, I would not be surprised to see Coach Rob Childress make some changes to the lineup in an attempt to produce more runs. The Aggies have really struggled to get hits with runners on base, stranding 24 runners on base in 3 games against Pepperdine over the weekend. SS Mikey Reynolds continues to be the most consistent hitter in the A&M lineup, and although he has done extremely well at the top of the order I would not be shocked to see him moved down a spot or 2 in an effort to get him more at-bats with runners on base. CF Krey Bratsen had a very nice weekend at the plate against the Waves, and with his speed having the potential to be a difference-maker the Aggies need him to continue to hit well and get on base.
In terms of guys who are slumping at the plate right now, 3B Blake Allemand finds his name at the top of that list. Blake has gone hitless in his first 17 at-bats of the season, although he has gotten on base 7 times and scored 5 runs. The Aggies badly need Allemand to pick up that elusive first hit of the season, as sometimes it just takes one to break the slump and get going offensively. I also would be a bit surprised if Coach Childress doesn't look for someone else to try in the cleanup spot of the A&M order. C Troy Stein is hitting just .250 so far in 2013 with only 1 2B and 1 RBI, and he also is tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 7.
This Northwestern State team will be starting 2 pitchers whose ERA's are both over 5 so far in 2013. I just typed and then deleted a prediction that the Aggies and Demons would split these 2 midweek games, but I'm changing my mind. I think that Ray and Long will both have strong performances on the mound again this week, and I look for a few lineup changes to help the A&M bats to get going against a couple of struggling Demons pitchers.
I'll take the Aggies winning both games. Make it happen, fellas.
Later this week we'll have a recap of whether I'm right or wrong on this prediction, and I'll also break down this weekend's Astros Foundation College Classic (formerly Houston College Classic) where A&M will take on Houston, Rice and North Carolina.