Well everyone, the gauntlet is upon us. The ever-maddening, often-irritating, uber-exhilarating trek across the south that is the average SEC baseball team’s conference schedule, including series against approximately 2,015 (whoop) ranked opponents, has finally arrived. And while simply playing an SEC schedule is #fun and has essentially kept A&M’s current 12-year streak of NCAA Regional appearances alive multiple times (howdy, 2013, ‘14, ‘17, and ‘18), it’s still quite grueling. Keeping in mind that there are 10 conference series each year, the 2019 SEC slate includes seven ranked opponents, as of this week’s D1Baseball Top 25. If you’re thinking that’s a bit excessive, that’s because it is excessive.
Oh, and the No. 1 team in the country is coming to Aggieland this weekend. Cool!
Needless to say, heading into their daunting conference schedule with some confidence would benefit the Aggies. They had an excellent chance to do so, when they took on Dallas Baptist up in the Metroplex on Tuesday. DBU has quietly been one of the most consistent programs in the state over the past decade, and would serve as a good final test. Unfortunately, despite putting up four total runs in the sixth and seventh innings, the Ags weren’t able to overcome DBU’s home run barrage, falling to the Patriots 5-4.
The most frustrating moment from Tuesday’s game came in the seventh inning. Having already brought three runs home in the frame to cut DBU’s lead to 5-4, the Aggies had runners at the corners with nobody out. Spoiler alert: they didn’t capitalize. With Ty Coleman standing at third, a simple, medium-depth fly ball would have tied the game. Hell, even a grounder to one of the middle infielders likely would have brought Coleman home. Instead, a Mikey Hoehner dribbler back to the pitcher (along with some questionable baserunning decisions), a Logan Foster three-pitch strikeout, and a Will Frizzell fly out ended the inning. Infuriating. If the Ags want to have a chance to knock off No. 1 this weekend, they absolutely cannot miss opportunities like that.
Yes, Vanderbilt, the country’s top ranked team, is coming to Aggieland this weekend. And the ‘Dores are really good at a whole lot of things. At the plate, they’re led by Austin Martin, who’s slashing .481/.582/.685 (lol), Ethan Paul (.415/.455/.600, with two bombs and 22 RBIs), and JJ Bleday (.397/.471/.735, with six homers and 21 RBIs). On the mound, Friday night starter Drake Fellows has an unblemished record at 3-0, but his numbers imply he hasn’t had the start to 2019 that you’d imagine from the No. 1 team’s ace. With an ERA of 5.32, Fellows has one start thus far in which he allowed just one earned run or fewer. In his other three starts, he’s allowed at least three earned runs. The strikeout numbers are there, as he’s racked up 36 Ks in just 22.0 innings. Saturday starter Patrick Raby, on the other hand, has been outstanding. His sparkling 0.87 ERA and 1.04 WHIP really stand out. This should be a great way to get conference play started.
- Friday: John Doxakis (3-1, 1.44 ERA) vs. Drake Fellows (3-0, 5.32 ERA)
- Saturday: Asa Lacy (4-0, 0.38 ERA) vs. Patrick Raby (3-0, 0.87 ERA)
- Sunday: TBA vs. TBA