Once again, the Ags have started their season off strong. They opened with a sweep of an overmatched Hofstra team that saw the debuts of many new Aggies, as well as plenty of #WHAMMYs to go around. The maroon and white then cruised through two midweek victories over SFA and Prairie View A&M, where they outscored their opponents 32-1. Seniors Hunter Melton, Michael Barash and J.B. Moss have gotten off to hot starts, as has junior Ronnie Gideon, with each hitting over .400. However, as hot as those guys have been, that hasn't been the case for preseason All-American Nick Banks. One of the Ags' most reliable bats over the last two seasons, Banks will more than likely get it turned around, and when he does, this lineup could reach a new level of unstoppable.
This weekend the Aggies head out west to the beautiful Malibu, California to take on the Pepperdine Waves, who are 2-2 on the young season. They dropped their opener to Oakland, but won the next two games to take the series. The Waves then dropped their midweek tilt with CSU-Northridge.
The Aggies and Waves last met in 2013 at Olsen, where Pepperdine took two of three. The Ags hold a 5-3 record all-time against Pepperdine.
Friday, 4:00 pm
Corbin Martin (1-0, 5.40) vs. A.J. Puckett (0-1, 4.50)
In somewhat of a surprise, Corbin Martin will toe the rubber for the maroon and white in the series opener. Many have tabbed Martin as a future Friday night starter, given that he has a plus fastball and filthy stuff. The main issue for Martin is to maintain control of his pitches. When he pumps the zone, he dominates. When he struggles with his location, he can get knocked around. In his start this past Saturday against Hofstra, he showed both his ability to dominate hitters and what happens when he fails to throw strikes. Outside of a 2+ inning stretch in which he gave up three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batter, he was almost untouchable. In his five innings pitched, Martin struck out nine Hofstra batters.
RHP Puckett started 15 games for the Waves in 2015, posting a 7-5 record with a 4.35 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. In six innings against Oakland, he gave up four runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out five. Because it's so early in the year, you really don't know how a pitcher will respond to an outing like Puckett had, but he's the Waves' Friday guy for a reason. This matchup should be a pretty good one.
Saturday, 3:00 pm
Kyle Simonds (1-0, 3.60) vs. Kiko Garcia (1-0, 2.57)
Simonds had a solid outing on opening night last Friday against Hofstra. He didn't have his best stuff that night, and as a result, he gave up two runs on seven hits, while striking out three in his five innings of work. After giving up those runs, however, Simonds seemed to settle in and become more comfortable out there on the mound. He retired five of his last eight batters faced.
RHP Garcia posted an 0-5 record in 21 appearances (eight starts) as a sophomore in 2015, with an ERA of 5.74 in 47.0 innings. Against Oakland, he gave up two runs on four hits and three walks in seven innings. Garcia more than held his own against Oakland in just his ninth career start, but he'll be facing a much different monster this weekend (duh).
Sunday, 3:00 pm
Tyler Ivey (1-0, 0,00) vs. Chandler Blanchard (1-0, 4.26)
Last weekend, Ivey became the first true freshman to start an opening weekend game for A&M since Barrett Loux in 2008, and he certainly didn't disappoint. Six shutout innings by the freshman, in which he gave up only two hits and one walk, helped propel the Aggies to a 5-0 victory over Hofstra to complete the series sweep. Ivey is another one of those future Friday night guys, and this weekend he will look to build off of an outstanding collegiate debut.
Junior Chandler Blanchard, who pitched in 30 games as a sophomore, will take the ball on Sunday for the Waves. Against Oakland last weekend, Blanchard gave up three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out five in six and two thirds innings. In 2015, Blanchard gave up 38 runs in 57.2 innings, which is good for an ERA of 4.99. Again, with the season being as young as it is, there's no telling what kind of performance we'll see from the Waves' Sunday starter. But much like Kiko Garcia, Blanchard hasn't faced an offense as potent as A&M's.
How to Watch/Listen
TV: Friday and Saturday's games will be available via TheW.tv. There will not be a TV broadcast for the Sunday game.
Radio: 1150 AM The Zone