Last weekend was a rough one in Fayetteville for Schloss & The Boys. On the road against a top-10 RPI team, the bare minimum result for maintaining solid position to claim an at-large postseason bid was merely avoiding a sweep. Then, after falling behind 5-0 and subsequently tying the game with five unanswered runs in game one, Hogs LF Hunter Grimes unleashed one of the most clutch outfield assists I have ever seen in a college baseball game to deny the Ags’ attempt at taking a 6-5 lead. Instead, Arkansas CF Jace Bohrofen demolished the second pitch he saw from Will Johnston over the wall in right, and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. Combined with their late-inning, probably-should’nt-have-won victory over Tarleton on Tuesday, it’s fair to say the Aggies are once again down pretty bad.
Fortunately (unfortunately?), this is the SEC, which means a new weekend brings another shot at taking down a highly-ranked foe. And because they’ve now been swept twice thus far this season, a series win over a highly-ranked foe now feels like a requirement, if the Aggies would like to participate in a regional. Which brings us to this weekend’s opponent: the fourth-ranked Florida Gators (currently no. 8 RPI).
How do the Aggies stack up against Florida? It’s not great. Most of what the Ags do poorly (i.e. issue an anxiety-inducing number of walks (12th in the SEC), give up lots of hard contact and thus lots of hits (13th), throw a lot of wild pitches (first, aka most), leading to a lot of easy runs via sac fly (first), etc.) matches up very favorably for any opposing offense, much less one that’s fourth in the country (second in the SEC) in total homers, fifth (second) in SLG, and tied for 10th (tied for second) in runs per game. Their lineup boasts the nation’s home run leader, in 1B/LHP Jac Caglianone (.364/.418/.866, 26 HR, 67 RBI), mainstays like LF Wyatt Langford (.403/.543/.784, 11 HR, 29 RBI) and SS Josh Rivera (.377/.476/.677, 14 HR, 55 RBI), and freshman 2B Cade Kurland (.304/.398/.601, 13 HR, 41 RBI). If it weren’t for the brilliance on display from South Carolina’s Ethan Petry and UGA’s Charlie Condon, Kurland would have a solid case for SEC Freshman of the Year.
On the flip side, the Ags and their approach of relentless patience (fourth nationally in walks, most in the SEC) are up against a pitching staff that ranks 161st in BB/9. Combine that with a team ERA of 5.78 in conference games, and the Aggies should score plenty of runs. The only issue is how consistently subpar A&M’s pitching staff has been all season. Nate Yeskie came here as one of the most well-respected pitching coaches in the entire sport, so here’s hoping he can figure something out.
- Friday: Nathan Dettmer (1-3, 6.08 ERA) vs. Brandon Sproat (6-2, 4.67 ERA)
- Saturday: Troy Wansing (2-2, 6.69 ERA) vs. Hurston Waldrep (6-2, 4.74 ERA)
- Sunday: TBA vs. Jac Caglianone (4-2, 5.11 ERA)