The Aggies cruised through their first five games, outscoring their opponents 75-11 to open the 2020 season. In doing so, they took a pretty strong step forward to proving that this season’s offense would not be as it was a year ago. This weekend, however, the Ags faced easily their toughest test of the season against back-to-back, reigning Patriot League champion Army.
After they continued their run of dominance in the first game, it seemed as though A&M would breeze through this weekend as well. Instead the Black Knights woke up, showing the same mettle that nearly allowed them to win their season-opening series against Duke. The Aggies took multi-run leads at multiple different points over the final two games, but the Cadets hung around. They put up 17 runs on 25 hits of their own on Saturday and Sunday to make things way too interesting for the collective sanity of the Aggie faithful. Thanks to some hard-nosed pitching on Saturday and the gift of Sunday travel restrictions, A&M snatched their brooms before Army could slam the closet door shut.
One major positive to take away from this weekend is definitely A&M’s offensive performance. The Ags racked up 32 runs on 34 hits, with 11 going for extra bases. They lead the SEC in basically every offensive category through eight games, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, total bases, walks, and steals. And for most of those categories, their lead over the second-ranked team is pretty sizeable. Through eight games in 2019, A&M scored 49 total runs against Fordham, SFA, Prairie View, and UIC. They’ve more than doubled that this year with 107. Take away the 30 runs scored against Prairie View, and the Aggies are still averaging 11 runs per game. As I mentioned before this weekend, this level of production is probably not sustainable over an entire season, but damn if it’s not encouraging to say the least.
- Asa Lacy was phenomenal to open the weekend. In five innings, he allowed just one run on four hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out a career-high 14. Ace wasn’t his sharpest at the offset, needing 30 pitches while working around a HBP and an RBI single. Luckily, he had his strikeout pitch working; a pesky third-strike wild pitch allowing Lacy to notch four punchouts in the first inning alone. He coaxed two groundouts over the course of his start, but every other out Ace recorded came via strikeout.
- The offense picked Lacy up almost immediately. A one-out RBI single off the bat of Hunter Coleman evened things up, before Zach DeLoach put the Aggies ahead for good with a three-run bomb off the back wall of the Army bullpen in right. They added five more in the sixth and another in the seventh, before DeLoach did the thing again with a two-run shot to end the scoring.
- Christian Roa put up another solid start in game two, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and no walks, while striking out 10 over five innings. After a leadoff double and an E1 on a sac bunt attempt that scored Army’s first run, Roa gave up a single to put men at the corners with nobody out, already down 1-0. A sac fly then pushed Army’s lead to 2-0. Two batters and one out later, Roa gave up yet another single that put runners at the corners, signaling that this could be a long day at the corner of Bush and Olsen. From there, however, Roa shut the Black Knights down, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. Hell, after inducing a groundout to start the third inning, he struck out eight in a row to finish his afternoon.
- With Roa’s pitch count at 95 and a 6-2 lead, Dustin Saenz came on to start the sixth, giving up a run manufactured on a hit, a wild pitch, a groundout, and a sac fly. Moo Menefee took over to start the seventh, working around a one-out single to keep the score 6-3. But to start the eighth, an infield single, stolen base, wild pitch and a walk put runners at first and third with no outs. That led Childress to replace the lefty with Bryce Miller, who immediately surrendered an RBI single, with runners still at the corners (it seems like that should be Army’s new slogan; “Go Army. Runners at the Corners”). A strikeout and a popup later, Army cut the deficit to one on a wild pitch, but Miller struck the next batter out to end the threat. Until the ninth, that is. Miller plunked the first batter of the ninth with his first pitch of the frame, and he gave up a single to the next guy. Naturally, Army moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, to move the go-ahead run to scoring position. That’s where Miller buckled down, striking out the next man he faced. But of course, Army couldn’t make things any easier. The next batter drove one deep into the gap in left-center, where Ray Alejo made a nifty, game-saving catch on the run to finally put the Black Knights away.
- Chandler Jozwiak took the mound on Sunday, and did what his predecessors could not: he kept Army scoreless in the first inning. From there, things began to creep downhill. A two-out, unearned RBI triple cut A&M’s lead to 3-1 in the second. Followed by a one-out RBI single in the third that made it 3-2. Then the wheels came off in the fourth. Joz surrendered a two-run homer with no outs in the fourth to give Army a 4-3 lead, before striking the following hitter. He then gave up back-to-back singles, followed by a two-run double to make it 6-3, Army, and his day was done.
- Later, in the seventh, the Aggies enjoyed a 10-6 lead. Naturally, Army loaded the bases with one out. The next batter cleared those bases with a three-run double to cut A&M’s lead to one, 10-9. Followed by a single; 10-10. Followed by an E5; 11-10. The next inning, after the Ags regained the lead, 13-11, a solo shot by Army’s right fielder again cut the deficit to just a run, 13-12. Bryce Miller came to the rescue once again, immediately retiring all three batters he faced.
- Offensively, the Aggies got off in a hurry. Bryce Blaum walked to lead things off, before stealing second and third over the course of the next at bat. He then scored on Cam Blake’s strikeout-wild pitch. Two batters later, with a man on, Hunter Coleman went yard to left-center, giving A&M a 3-0 advantage. In the fourth, immediately after Army jumped out to their 6-3 lead, the Ags loaded the bases for Blaum with one out. The junior then smacked a bases-clearing double down the left field line to tie the game up at 6-6. In the fifth, they tacked on three more, with a two-out RBI infield single, a balk, and another RBI single. Cam Blake added to the lead with a one-out solo shot to right in the sixth, making it 10-6. Then, following Army’s second lead-taking rally in the seventh, Logan Sartori’s two-run double and Logan Britt’s sacrifice fly gave A&M the lead right back, 13-11. Then, following a one-out RBI fielder’s choice by Trevor Werner, the game mercifully ended thanks to travel restrictions. Yeah, this game was wild. And annoying.
The Aggies welcome Houston Baptist and Incarnate Word this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. First pitch for both games is set for 6:32 pm. These two mark the final tune-up games before the Ags head up to Frisco for the Frisco College Baseball Classic next weekend. You can catch both games on SEC Network + and SportsRadio 1150 AM/ The Zone 93.7 FM.