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Series Preview: Aggie Baseball Hosts Cornell

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Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerds

Photo via Rebecca S.

JUST A HEADS UP: This weekend’s series schedule has been adjusted. Instead of the usual Friday, Saturday, Sunday format, the Aggies and Cornell will play a double header today starting at 3:00 pm, and the final game of the series tomorrow at 2:00 pm.

This past Tuesday night, the Aggie Baseballers took on Stephen F. Austin, and they seemed to be in control from the very beginning. True freshman lefty Dustin Saenz made his first career start in Aggieland, and he pitched pretty well. In 4.2 innings of work, he gave up just one unearned run on four hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. From there we saw five more arms come out of the Aggies’ bullpen, four of whom didn’t see any action last weekend against Rhode Island. Given the Ags had a 7-1 lead in that fifth inning, the game was seemingly sealed at that point, allowing Childress to give those bullpen guys some work.

The real story of the game was true fish centerfielder Zach DeLoach. His ridiculous performance against Rhody last weekend earned him SEC Freshman of the Week honors, and he followed that up with another dandy of a day at the plate on Tuesday. He hit for the cycle against SFA, becoming the first Aggie to do so since Tyler Naquin in 2011. “‘Chise”, as his teammates call him, is on just a ridiculous run in his last three games. In case you missed it, here’s a video from the official Aggie Baseball twitter account recapping all four of his hits from Tuesday’s game:

This weekend, the Aggies are set to face Cornell, in what will be the Big Red’s season opener. This also marks the fourth consecutive season that A&M will duel with a group of Ivy League nerds in a non-conference series. The Ags are 9-0 so far, and they’ll be looking to push that to 12-0 starting tonight. The thing about Cornell is that they haven’t finished higher than fourth in the Ivy League since 2014, and their highest RPI finish according to Warren Nolan was 126 last season. So basically, this should be a good tuneup series for the squad before they head to Frisco next weekend.

Probable Starters

  • Friday Game 1: Stephen Kolek (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Tommy Morris (2017 Stats: 2-2, 4.60 ERA)
  • Friday Game 2: Chandler Jozwiak (0-0, 9.00 ERA) vs. Tyler Fernandez (No 2017 stats)
  • Saturday: Mitchell Kilkenny (1-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. Tim Willittes (2017 Stats: 4-3, 6.12 ERA)

What to Watch For

The Zach-DeLoach-Is-Really-Good Show

In his last three games, he’s hit a combined 11-14, with two bombs, scored nine runs, and driven in four. The combination of DeLoach and Michael F. Helman in the top two spots in the lineup have provided the ideal offensive catalyst for the Aggies thus far. Not only is he getting on base ahead of Michael F. and Shewmake (who’s BETTER THAN YOUR ENTIRE TEAM), he’s also driving in runs via extra base hits. Of his 11 knocks since his 0-fer debut last Friday night, six of them have gone for extra bases. That’s just dumb.

Another chance for Jozwiak

Despite starting off his first career collegiate start showing incredible potential before everything began to creep up on him after three innings, Childress has decided to give the young lefty another shot at showing the world what he can do on the mound. And he is certainly capable of handling hitters at this level, as evidenced by the first portion of his outing last weekend. If Jozwiak wants to keep his spot in this rotation, he’ll have to keep it together a bit longer with how dominant John Doxakis was in relief.

More Kolek and Kilkenny brilliance

Quite possibly, Stephen Kolek and Mitchell Kilkenny are the most important keys to the A&M pitching staff’s success this year. With Kolek as your Friday night guy, that much is obvious, but if Kilkenny can pitch like he did last Sunday throughout the season, that gives the Aggies one of the deepest weekend rotations in the entire country. I’m not saying he Kilkenny has to throw five shutout innings while absolutely dominating opposing hitters every time he takes the mound, although that would be real nice if he did. No, if he can simply stay in the strike zone consistently with all of his pitches, he’ll be extremely hard to beat on Sundays.

How to Watch

  • Times: Friday Game 1, 3:00 pm | Friday Game 2, 6:30 pm | Saturday, 2:00 pm
  • TV: All three games will be televised on SEC Network +
  • Radio: Dave South, Scott Clendenin, and Kevin Hurley have the call on SportsRadio 1150 AM/The Zone 102.7 FM
  • Live Stats: tamu.statbroadcast.com (desktop); tamustats.com (mobile)