There's no weekend quite like opening weekend. Excitement that has been building for around eight months finally spills over onto the field from the second deck of Olsen Field through a wall of bubbles and GET IN THE BOX COACH. And what an opening weekend it was. The weather (outside of a drizzly Sunday afternoon) was absolutely perfect. The grass on the field was as green as it has ever been. It was a most perfect scene, and the Aggies certainly delivered, with a sweep of the Hofstra Pride and quite a few stellar performances along the way.
Now to pick up where my predecessor, jzimmermann11, left off, here's GBH's 3 Gig 'Ems of the weekend!
GBH's Three Gig 'Ems
: Ronnie Gideon
He didn't get the start at DH on Friday like I initially predicted, but he did end up getting the start there the next two days. In those starts, he really delivered. On Saturday, Gideon went 1-4 with a grand slam, one walk and 4 RBI. He followed that performance up with a 2-4 day in which he hit his second home run of the weekend and tallied three total RBI.
: Tyler Ivey
In his first collegiate start, Ivey went six outstanding innings, while giving up only 2 hits and a walk, and tallied 5 strikeouts. Oh and those six innings were scoreless. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous heading into Ivey's first start, with it being his first ever appearance against what had been a relatively hot-hitting Hofstra squad throughout the weekend. Quite the debut for the talented freshman, and one he will most likely remember for a long time.
: Hunter Melton
This one was really a no-brainer. The man whom everyone lovingly calls Cheesecake had quite the weekend against Hofstra. He started all three games at first base, hit clean up and proceeded to reach base in 9 of his 13 total plate appearances. The highlight of the weekend (for Cheesecake and the Aggies, both) was his performance on Saturday, where he hit 5-5 with 2 HR, a 2B, two 1B and 6 RBI. Like what?
Boomer White - In his first action for the maroon and white after sitting out the entire 2015 season, BOOMER set the bubble machines off almost immediately when he hit his first #WHAMMY of the season in the bottom of the first inning on Friday night. It was kismet. After never really feeling at home in his two seasons at TCU, he transferred and sat out an entire season because he wanted to play for Texas A&M so badly. Then, in his first ever at bat as an Aggie, he went yard. You can't ask for a better storyline. Welcome to Aggieland, Boomer! It's nice to have you. Do that thing some more, please.
J.B. Moss - Lost in the shuffle a bit was the weekend that the senior outfielder had. On Friday, Moss went 2-3 with two triples and two runs. Yes, I said two triples. He didn't have as good of a day at the office on Saturday, going 0-4 with a hit-by-pitch and a run, but Sunday, he went 3-3 with a 2B, 2 RBI and a steal. It's great to see J.B. jump out to this great start in his final season in Aggieland, and it's exactly what the doctor ordered for the Aggies. They will need production from their corner outfielders for the rest of the season, and J.B. is a great option for Rob Childress and co. Keep doing the thing, please.
Now to move onto the actual recap portion of our program:
Friday: A&M 5, Hofstra 2
Senior RHP Kyle Simonds got the Opening Night start for the Ags, and he started by setting the Pride down in order in the top of the first inning. Unfortunately, the second inning wasn't as quick and easy. That frame started with back-to-back singles by the Pride before the runner on second moved up on a fly ball deep to centerfield. The Pride DH then knocked in the game's first run with a soft liner to left. He quickly got it together, and escaped the inning with a strikeout and groundout. The second inning wasn't much kinder to Simonds. He gave up a leadoff double, followed by an RBI single. Simonds then buckled down, striking the next batter out, picked that baserunner off and inducing an inning-ending groundout to second. He only allowed one more baserunner in his 5 inning outing. Sophomore Brigham Hill took over for Simonds to start the sixth, and he gave the Aggies two and a third scoreless innings in which he picked up two strikeouts. Then, with one out in the eighth inning, came junior Ryan Hendrix. Hendrix came out of the bullpen to an awesome walkout video while AC/DC's Hells Bells played, and his performance matched the video's intensity. He only allowed one hit and one walk in his inning and two thirds, while striking out two. Oh, and most of his pitches during that span were of the 95+ MPH variety.
On the offensive side of things, the Ags started pretty quickly, with White's home run in the bottom of the first. After a scoreless second inning, the Aggies were facing a 2-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the third. They responded with a run in that frame, and another run in each of the next three innings, thanks to a pair of Ryne Birk sacrifice flies, another sacrifice fly by newcomer Joel Davis and an RBI single by Michael Barash.
Saturday: A&M 15, Hofstra 4
On Saturday, sophomore Corbin Martin made his first career start for the maroon and white. Outside of a three-run second inning, in which he seemed to lose control of his off-speed pitches a bit, Martin was dominant. In his five innings of work, Martin tallied 9 strikeouts while allowing 3 runs on five hits and four walks. From there, newcomer Jace Vines made his A&M debut, sophomore Cason Sherrod saw his first action of the young season and sophomore transfer Kaylor Chafin also made his debut for the maroon and white. Those three combined to allow only one more run over the final four innings of the game to preserve what ended up being a fairly lopsided win.
The Aggie offense struck first in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI single off of the bat of Hunter Melton, but came into the bottom of the third down 3-1 after a scoreless bottom of the second. That inning started with a leadoff Boomer White single, who scored quickly on a Nick Banks triple. Melton and Michael Barash then did the #WHAMMY thing back-to-back to make it 5-3 Ags. They then scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a Gideon grand slam, to make the score 11-3. In the next frame, Melton added his second home run of the afternoon, making the score now 12-3. Melton then added two more runs in the seventh with an RBI double, before Cole Bedford, who replaced Barash due to the blowout nature of this game, doubled Melton home. Bubbles were flying in droves on Saturday, and that might be an understatement.
Sunday: A&M 5, Hofstra 0
In game three of this opening weekend set, freshman Tyler Ivey made his collegiate debut for the maroon and white, and it could not have gone much better. After giving up a leadoff single in the first, Ivey settled down and struck out the next two batters with a caught stealing sandwiched in between. Ivey wouldn't allow another baserunner until he gave up a two-out single to the Pride's right fielder in the fifth. After walking the next batter, he struck out the Pride's second baseman to end the inning. His final inning, the sixth, was also very uneventful, as he induced two groundouts and a weak popup to third. In total, Ivey tallied 7 strikeouts over six innings and gave up only two hits and a walk. Overall, this was an outstanding debut for the freshman, and you can certainly see why Coach Childress was so excited about signing him to begin with. The fact that he kept the Pride hitters off of the base paths for the most part after they gave the previous two Aggie starters so many fits ("many" being largely relative), makes this performance that much better. Following Ivey, was veteran left-handed reliever Ty Schlottmann, who threw a scoreless seventh while giving up only one hit and no walks. To start the eighth, we got to see the Aggies' other closer, Mark Ecker, get his first action of the young season, and he, too, walked out to his very own (and very cool) walkout video. Ecker allowed only two hits in his two innings, while striking out two as well. It was a very good day for the Aggies on the mound.
The Aggies' scoring began in the second inning with an RBI single by Ronnie Gideon, scoring Joel Davis. Davis then scored again in the fourth on a J.B. Moss double. The bats were quiet for the next two innings before Gideon drove in two more runs with a mammoth two-run home run to straight away center. Moss then provided the Ags their fifth and final run in the eighth with an RBI single to score Melton.
Tuesday (6:30) - Stephen F. Austin (2-2)
SFA began their season in the Clay Gould Classic on the campus of UT-Arlington this past weekend, and started off with a 12-1 shellacking of UT-Arlington on opening day. The Lumberjacks dropped their Saturday tilt with preseason top 10 ranked Oklahoma State, 8-2 before coming back on Sunday to knock off the Cowboys in 10 innings, 5-4. The 'jacks played a second game on Sunday, this time a rematch with UT-Arlington, which they dropped 13-7. Much like last year, the 'jacks are coming into Olsen to play their fifth game in four days.
Wednesday (6:30) - Prairie View A&M (2-1)
PVAMU started their season in the MLB Urban Youth Invitational in New Orleans, LA this past weekend, where they lost to LA Tech on Friday, but rebounded against Alcorn St. and Grambling St. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Panthers have a game against Incarnate Word on Tuesday before coming to College Station.