Last weekend, the Aggies took on their first road test of the season, and took two of three from Pepperdine on the back of consecutive shutouts. Despite holding a four-run lead in the opening game of the series, Pepperdine came back to win. Then, thanks to two outstanding performances by Kyle Simonds and Tyler Ivey, the Ags were able to end the road trip on a high note. A&M then met Houston Baptist in the midweek, and struggled a bit more than anyone would have thought. HBU started their staff ace, as well as throwing their top two arms out of the bullpen, in hopes of knocking off the Aggies. The game lasted 13 innings, and ended thanks to a walk-off, bases-loaded walk by Nick Choruby. Dropping that game would have been costly for the Ags, who have very realistic CWS aspirations, but they used a bit of early season Olsen Magic to escape the night with a 3-2 victory.
This weekend, A&M welcomes the Yale Bulldogs to Olsen Field for the first time since the 1993 College Station Regional. Interestingly enough, the Bulldogs will be playing in their first games of the year. They finished 6-14 in the Ivy League in 2015 and 15-23 overall. Their top returning hitters are Harrison White, who hit .302 with a home run and 12 RBI last year, and Richard Slenker, who hit .290 with two home runs, 18 RBI and stole 10 bases.
Pitching Matchups (*2015 Stats)
Friday, 6:30 pm
Jace Vines (1-0, 0.90) vs. Mason Kukowski (3-2, 3.71*)
Rob Childress decided to shake up the weekend rotation yet again this week following a shaky performance from last week's Friday starter, Corbin Martin. Vines has one start on the young season that came against SFA on Feb. 23. In that start, Vines gave up his only run of the season on three hits and a walk in 5.0 innings, while striking out seven. In his other two appearances, a relief appearance against Hofstra and another at Pepperdine, he allowed no base runners in 5.0 total innings. That's pretty spectacular, and the mathematics back that up. He has a ridiculously low WHIP of 0.400. That number will almost assuredly go up as the season continues, but it shows just how dominant the 2015 NJCAA Division III Pitcher of the Year has been so far. Vines has definitely earned this opportunity, and hopefully he provides the type of performance that you'd expect from an SEC Friday night starter that A&M has not had thus far.
Originally from Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas, Kukowski was named to the Freshman All-American Team by Collegiate Baseball in 2015 after he appeared in 21 games with one start. He posted a 3.71 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 30 Ks to 11 walks, while earning four saves in four opportunities. Kukowski was one of Yale's strongest relief pitchers last season, and did not allow a run until his sixth appearance of 2015.
Saturday, 2:00 pm
Tyler Ivey (2-0, 0.00) vs. Scott Politz (No 2015 stats)
Tyler Ivey just continues to impress in his first year in an Aggie uniform. You've most likely heard about his outstanding debut, in which he threw six shutout innings and struck out seven against Hofstra. That alone is impressive. But then he followed that up with another six shutout innings. This time it was to clinch a series victory on the road. Now, thanks to his two impressive performances, he's being rewarded with a Saturday start. It will be interesting to see how he responds to his new slot.
Scott Politz is a true freshman from Austin, and will be making his collegiate debut on Saturday. He earned four letters in baseball at St. Andrew's Episcopal. In his senior season, he recorded 62 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. In his junior season, he struck out 65 in 59.0 innings, while posting a 1.27 ERA. Obviously, Politz is familiar with striking people out, but we'll see how he adapts to baseball at the college level and A&M's potent lineup.
Sunday, 12:00 pm
Kyle Simonds (2-0, 1.50) vs. Chasen Ford (3-3, 6.89*)
After relatively struggling in his first start on opening night, Simonds came back to save the Ags' series against Pepperdine last Saturday. Taking that Saturday contest was vital for the simple reason that they would have lost the series right then and there. Pepperdine had all the momentum in the world after their 7-5 win on Friday, in which they overcame a four run deficit. Simonds then threw seven shutout innings of two hit, one walk baseball, while striking out nine. He stepped up exactly when the Aggies most needed him to, and he helped get the maroon and white back on track.
Chasen Ford is a junior from Lake Forest, California, who pitched in 11 games last season (seven starts). In total, he compiled a 3-3 record in 49.2 innings with a 6.89 ERA. He also allowed 61 hits and 17 walks throughout those 49.2 innings, which corresponds to a WHIP of 1.570. In 2014, his WHIP was a bit lower at 1.490. Against A&M's potent lineup, expect to see plenty of Ags get on base.
So the 41st President of the United States will be in attendance this weekend:
Saturday's game will feature a special guest as President George H.W. Bush is slated to throw out the First Pitch. The series with Yale was facilitated at the request of the Bush Family. President Bush was a first baseman and captain for the Yale team that played in the first two College World Series in 1947 and 1948.
The team will honor 41 with some swanky new uniforms, as well:
How to Watch
TV: All three games will be available on SEC Network+.
Radio: 1150 AM/102.7 FM