Just... Woof. As in, "Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof." Preach, Kevin (If you don't get the movie reference here, well, you disappoint me as much as the baseball team did this weekend). That just about sums up the weekend that Aggie Baseball had as they fell flat on their faces in their first road trip of the season. I don't have much else to add here, so let's go ahead and look at the carnage.
Saturday DH Gm1: Texas A&M 0, Fresno State 5
I said in the weekend preview that this first game had the potential to be a pitcher's duel, as Fresno State's Jordan Brink had been excellent in his first two starts this season. I ended up being half right on that prediction, but I didn't count on the struggles of A&M ace Daniel Mengden. Fresno State led off each of the first 4 innings with singles, and in the 5th their leadoff runner reached base as a result of being hit by a pitch. That is generally not going to be a recipe for success, and although Mengden worked out of trouble in the first 3 innings you can only play with fire so long before you get burned. The Bulldogs put 2 runs on the scoreboard in the 4th - which would ultimately prove to be all they would need to win this one - on a trio of singles along with a wild pitch. The wheels fell off for the Aggies in the 5th, as Mengden actually hit the first 2 batters in the inning and then gave up an RBI double followed by a pair of wild pitches, ultimately stretching the lead to 5-0. Mengden finished the game with 7 innings pitched, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 3 wild pitches, 2 hit batters, 7 strikeouts, and a walk.
On the flip side of things, the Aggies never really threatened to score against either Brink or Bulldogs' reliever Derick Velazquez. A&M managed just 2 hits in the game - one by Nottebrok and one by Melton - although they also had 4 other runners reach base by drawing walks. The Aggies had a chance to respond to Fresno State's 3-run 5th inning, with Jace Statum drawing a leadoff walk in the 6th, but a fielder's choice erased him and a flyout and strikeout ended the inning with no damage done. A&M didn't manage to get a runner to 2nd base throughout this whole game, so that pretty much tells you all you need to know. It was a repeat of last Friday's loss to Sacramento State, which I had hoped would prove to be an exception and not a trend.
Saturday DH Gm2: Texas A&M 5, Fresno State 6
I'm not sure if it's more painful to lose by getting shutout or to lose after blowing a 5-1 lead, but that's how this series went for the Aggies. In the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, it was the Aggies striking first in the top of the 2nd inning. A&M got the leadoff runner on in the 1st inning but were unable to capitalize, and after Cole Lankford led off with a single in the 2nd only to be erased by a double play it looked like we may have a repeat of Game 1. JB Moss, however, drew a 2-out walk and Jonathan Moroney then smacked a triple to left that scored Moss. Moroney would score on a wild pitch to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but the Bulldogs would respond in the bottom of the inning to cut that lead in half. Fresno State led off with a double, moved the runner to 3rd on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The teams would both go scoreless through the next 5 innings, but the Aggies staked themselves to a 5-1 lead in the top of the 6th. Logan Taylor got things started with a 1-out double, Logan Nottebrok drew a walk, and Hunter Melton drove in Taylor with a single. Lankford was next up and greeted Fresno State's reliever Casey Rodriguez with an RBI double and Mitchell Nau was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. GR Hinsley pinch hit for banks but grounded into a fielder's choice that retired Melton at home. The next Bulldogs reliever Garrett Mundell walked Moroney which gave the Aggies another run, but Jace Statum struck out looking to end the inning.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs would again answer back and this time they gave themselves the lead that would ultimately be the game's final tally. 4 consecutive singles started the bottom half of the 6th, bringing the score to 5-3 and marking the end of Parker Ray's evening. Tyler Stubblefield came in from the bullpen and allowed a single which loaded the bases with still no outs. Stubblefield induced a double play from Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward that brought in another run, and then a 2-out single tied the game at 5. Things went from bad to worse as an error by Moroney in left allowed the Bulldogs to take a 6-5 lead which would turn out to be the difference in the game.
Parker Ray didn't finish with a pretty stat line in this one, giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 5 innings, but Stubblefield would ultimately be the A&M pitcher charged with the loss. Andrew Vinson, AJ Minter, and Ryan Hendrix were all excellent in relief, allowing just 1 baserunner (a walk by Vinson) over their 2.1 combined innings. A&M had a golden chance to draw even in the 8th with a double by Hunter Melton to start the inning followed by a single from Lankford, but the Aggies would run themselves out of drawing level. Nick Choruby came in to pinch-run for Melton after his double, and he was thrown out trying to score after Nau hit a grounder to 3rd. Flyouts by Stein and Moroney would bring the inning to a close, and the Aggies went down in order in the 9th to drop the series.
Sunday: Fresno State 1, Texas A&M 0
This one was definitely not pretty. Fresno State starter Tim Borst struck out 11 Aggies and allowed just 3 hits in 8 scoreless innings of work. Bulldogs' reliever Jake Shull walked a batter in the 9th but then struck out the side, meaning A&M batters struck out 14 times in this game. The Aggies' decreased strikeouts numbers were one of the biggest positives to me so far this season, but this game gave me some bad flashbacks to the 2013 season. Grayson Long worked out of an early bases-loaded jam with 1 out in the 2nd inning to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard, and Long ultimately finished the day with another pretty nice start - 5.1 innings, no runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.
Matt Kent worked 2/3 of an inning in relief of Long, and Andrew Vinson followed with 2 strong innings of his own. Unfortunately, Vinson would be saddled with the loss when Fresno State walked off in the 9th. Vinson allowed a leadoff single to start the inning, and Coach Childress went with AJ Minter out of the bullpen. A fielder's choice groundout erased the leadoff runner, but a stolen base put a runner in scoring position for the Bulldogs. Minter struck out the next batter, and Childress elected to turn to Jason Jester, who had not pitched in either game of the Saturday doubleheader. Jester continued his rough start to the 2014 season by allowing Taylor Ward to smack the game winning hit into the gap in right-center.
A&M was again unable to move a runner past 2nd base, and the top of the 3rd inning for the Aggies pretty much summarizes how this game went. Nick Banks led off the inning with a single. Jonathan Moroney struck out swinging. Banks moved to second on a wild pitch. Jace Statum struck out swinging. Blake Allemand struck out swinging. Let me go ahead and try and put this performance in some perspective. Borst, Fresno State's starter, had made his first start of the season last weekend against Nevada. Borst lasted just 3 innings in that start, giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits without striking out a batter. He had made 3 other appearances out of the bullpen, but had struck out just 2 batters combined coming into Sunday. The Aggies then proceeded to strike out ELEVEN TIMES against him, and then three more against their reliever. I literally just can't.
[Not so much] Fun With Stats
.299 - A&M's team batting average coming into this series
.146 - A&M's team batting average in this series
24 - strikeouts by A&M hitters through 8 games in 2014
22 - strikeouts by A&M hitters in 3 games against Fresno State
Click here for the full video of Sunday's game (courtesy: Fresno State Athletics)
I wasn't able to get highlights or full video of either of the Saturday games, but you should probably just thank me for that.
Coming Up Next
Tuesday (3/4) at UT-Arlington, 7:00pm
The Aggies will head to the Metroplex on Tuesday looking to bounce back from this brutal weekend series, playing at the Rangers' newly named Globe Life Park in Arlington. Neither team has yet to officially announce a starter for this game. Tyler Stubblefield has been the Aggies' midweek starter in the first 2 such games this season, pitching well in both, although he did go 2/3 of an inning in the 2nd game on Saturday. UT Arlington is likely to use senior RHP Brad Vachon (1-2, 6.43, 12 K, 2 BB) who has started their last 2 midweek games - a win at TCU and a loss at Baylor. The Mavericks come into this series with a 3-7 record, a team batting average of .283, and a team ERA of 4.30.
Wednesday (3/5) vs Texas Southern, 6:35pm
The Tigers will come to College Station on Wednesday after playing at home against HBU on Tuesday. Starters for this one are TBD for both sides as of now; I'll update once we have an official announcement. Texas Southern has a 5-8 record on the season so far, including a 4-1 loss at LSU and a 8-2 loss to Virginia Tech, and they feature a batting average of just .248 and a team ERA of 3.19.
Friday - Sunday (3/7 - 3/9) vs Louisiana Tech
I'll have more info on the Bulldogs later this week, but they currently sit with a 3-7 record coming into a pair of midweek games against McNeese State. Louisiana Tech hitters have a combined batting average of .257 and their pitching staff's combined ERA is a less than impressive 6.10. Let's hope that the Aggies can do a better job of hitting against these Bulldogs than the last ones.