The Aggie Baseballers needed to make a statement this weekend if they wanted to snag a regional hosting spot. Instead, they were swept for the first time all season. The starting pitchers allowed a combined 14 earned runs on 20 hits, 10 walks, and three hit batters, while striking out just 12. Meanwhile, the offense scored a combined seven runs on 20 hits on the weekend, struck out 33 times compared to just seven walks, left 25 runners on base, and registered a measly four extra base hits. Those numbers all add up to a team slash line of .202/.279/.283 on the weekend. That is the exact opposite of good, and now A&M is flirting hard with missing the NCAA Tournament altogether.
It’s not at all uncommon for SEC teams to appear in the regionals with a sub-.500 conference record. The SEC is far and away the strongest baseball conference in the country year after year. Merely playing in the SEC is what probably granted the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament berths in both 2013 and 2014, despite finishing 13-16 and 14-16 in the league in those years, respectively. And as of right now, A&M sits at 12-15 in the league, meaning a .500 finish is their best case scenario. That would require sweeping South Carolina, the SEC’s hottest team, next weekend. Taking just two of three would put their league record at 14-16, which may or may not be enough. Losing the series would put them at least four games below .500 in league play. So the Ags are in absolutely-must-win mode for the final week of the season because, as D1Baseball’s Kendall Rogers put it on twitter yesterday, “[no] matter your league, four games under is bad.”
- Mitchell Kilkenny took the mound, and he was definitely off his game. In just 4.1 innings, he allowed seven runs (all earned) on nine hits and three walks, while striking out just three batters. It’s never good when your team strikeout leader only manages three punch outs in an outing. The Hogs jumped all over Kilkenny in the first inning. With a runner on first and two outs, he gave up back-to-back singles that scored Arkansas’ first run of the game. The next batter cranked a 1-0 offering over the wall in left for a three-run homer to push the lead to 4-0. Kilkenny settled down over the next three innings, working around four hits. Two walks and a single loaded the bases in the fifth, before Kilkenny coaxed a grounder to third. The Ags cut the run off at home, keeping the Hogs at four runs, but that was all for Kilkenny. Asa Lacy came into the game, walked the next hitter, hit the batter after that, and allowed a two-run single to center from the third hitter he faced, closing the book on Kilkenny.
- Offensively, the Aggies didn’t have much of an answer. Hunter Coleman led off the second with a solo shot to cut Arkansas’ lead to 4-1. In the fourth, Coleman led off with an infield single before Will Frizzell took the Hogs’ starter deep to right for a two-run tater, cutting the lead to 4-3. That was as close as A&M would get, as they managed just two more hits for the rest of the game. They struck out 15 times in this one.
- John Doxakis got the usual game two start, and he fared much better than his predecessor. After allowing a two-out run in the first, Dox scattered two hits over the next five innings, working around three walks and a hit batter. He got the first hitter of the seventh swinging, but a walk and a base hit from the next two put runners on the corners. Having already thrown 113 pitches, Dox was pulled for closer Nolan Hoffman. Hoffman got the next hitter to pop out on the infield, but the next batter doubled, scoring both runners he inherited from Doxakis and giving Arkansas a 3-0 lead. In total, Dox allowed three runs (all earned) on five hits, three walks, and seven punch outs in 6.1 innings.
- On offense, A&M stranded 10 runners on base, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Their lone run came from a late rally in the ninth. A Logan Foster walk and a Zach DeLoach single put runners on the corners with nobody out for pinch hitter Cam Blake. A sacrifice fly from Blake scored the Aggie run.
- Stephen Kolek got the start, and in 5.1 innings of work, he allowed four runs (all earned) on six hits, three walks, and two strikeouts. Once again, Arkansas got the scoring started in the first. After cruising through the second, Kolek issued a lead off walk followed by a hit batter to start the third. The Razorbacks’ cleanup hitter then took a 3-1 pitch deep for a three-run bomb and a 4-0 lead.
- Another day, another meager offensive output for the Aggies. They tallied five hits in the first five innings, before a pinch-hit, one-out single from Chris Andritsos scored Cole Bedford from third in the sixth. The next batter, Logan Foster, was hit by the first pitch he saw, loading the bases with one out. Unfortunately, Cam Blake then grounded into a double play to end the inning, and quell any comeback the Ags were mounting. After Arkansas added two unearned insurance runs in the eighth, the Aggies plated two of their own in the ninth on a two-out, two-run single from Bedford. Too little, too late, though.
A&M will return home for the remainder of the regular season, including their final midweek contest on Tuesday. The Aggies will play host to Sam Houston State. The Bearkats are 35-17 overall and lead the Southland Conference with a 21-6 record. First pitch is slated for 6:32.