The 2018 season opener had everything: a dominating performance from the Friday night starter, some early-season Olsen Magic on day two, and a nice Sunday Runday to cap off the weekend. It was a series that gave A&M a taste of winning in every way imaginable. For obvious reasons, this is something that could prove valuable as the season progresses.
This series didn’t do much in the way of solidifying the Aggies as contenders, given their opponent. That’s not to say that Rhode Island is a bad baseball team; they’re not. After all, they’ve finished at least third in the Atlantic 10 in each of the last three seasons, including a first place finish in 2016. They returned their entire pitching staff from 2017, and their big arm, All-American Tyler Wilson, was named the A-10’s Pitcher of the Year in both 2015 and 2016. He started on Friday night.
Because of that, sweeping the Rams feels a bit different than last year’s onslaught against Bowling Green on opening weekend. That’s especially true on a weekend where half of the SEC dropped at least one game, LSU lost two of three to Notre Dame (their highest RPI finish this decade was 33 in 2015), and ST8BALL got swept at the hands of Southern Miss by a combined score of 23 to 6. By no means is anyone around the country ready to call A&M true contenders, but taking care of business they way they did is a good sign.
- Rob Childress tallied his 500th career victory as a head coach, becoming just the third skipper in Texas A&M history to reach the 500-win mark. He currently sits third all-time in victories, behind Aggie legends Mark Johnson (876) and Tom Chandler (660). Just a huge accomplishment for RC. After the game, this video was played on the scoreboard of many former Aggie baseballers congratulating Childress on the milestone. Congrats, coach! Here’s to many, many more.
- A&M starter Stephen Kolek was electric in this one. He allowed just one unearned run on five hits in his 5.2 innings of work. He racked up 10 punch outs to just one walk. This Stephen Kolek will win the Ags quite a few Friday nights this year.
- The Aggies jumped on the board first, scoring three in the bottom of the second. A lead off double from newbie Will Frizzell, an RBI single from Logan Foster, an RBI double from Baine Schoenvogel, and an RBI groundout from Michael F. Helman gave A&M a 3-0 lead. Cole Bedford tacked on an RBI double in the fifth, making it 4-1, and that was all they needed.
- True freshman Chandler Jozwiak made his first career start in Aggieland, and he came out of the gate hot. He struck out the first two batters swinging and needed just eight pitches to get through the first inning. Unfortunately, the next two frames were not as kind to the lefty, giving up three runs thanks to some sloppy play in the field. With the game knotted at 1-1, a two-out walk in the third came around to score after Jozwiak had the runner picked off, but he threw the ball past the first baseman, allowing the runner to head to third base. He then scored on a single to left.
- With the Rams up 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Aggies needed to call upon their good friend Olsen Magic if they wanted to claim the series. Michael F. Helman reached on an E6 to open the frame, and Braden Shewmake smoked a ball into the gap in right-center for a triple. That cut the Rhode Island lead to 3-2. Finally in the bottom of the ninth, Logan Foster and Allonte Wingate hit back-to-back singles to open the frame. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, as true freshman CF Zach DeLoach stepped into the box. DeLoach, who was already 3 for 4 on the day, smacked a line drive past the drawn-in second baseman, scoring both runners and completing the opening weekend Olsen Magic.
- The true hero in this one was probably John Doxakis. He replaced the struggling Jozwiak to start the fourth, and he was outstanding. His final line: six innings, two hits, eight punch outs, no walks, and one big, fat zero on the scoreboard. Domination. I would not be surprised to see Dox in the rotation next weekend.
- SUN-DAY RUN-DAY (clap clap clapclapclap). DeLoach picked up right where he left off on Saturday with a single to left. Shewmake then doubled, putting runners at second and third. A subsequent Hunter Coleman groundout and a passed ball gave A&M a 2-0 lead. But just as it seemed the Rams were going to keep this one close with their good pitching, Michael F. Helman CLOCKED a two-run bomb off the scoreboard to make it 4-0. The Ags added another run in the fifth off of a Will Frizzell RBI single, pushing their lead to 5-0. After Rhode Island scored twice in the seventh, the Aggies answered with back-to-back blasts by Zach DeLoach and Michael F. Helman to make it 7-2. Finally, in the eighth, A&M went back-to-back again, this time with a two-run bomb from George Janca and a solo shot from Chris Andritsos. That’s five home runs for the Ags. It was #fun.
- Mitchell Kilkenny was absolutely brilliant on the hill. His final line of two runs in 6.1 innings on four hits and seven strikeouts really doesn’t tell the whole story. The first time through the Rhode Island order, Kilkenny was perfect, needing just 28 pitches while he racked up five punch outs.
A&M will take on Stephen F. Austin at Olsen on tonight. First pitch is at 6:30 pm, and as always you can catch the games on SEC Network+ and SportsRadio 1150 AM/ The Zone 102.7 FM.