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Weekend Recap: Aggies Sweep Holy Cross

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The Texas Aggie Baseball team started the 2015 season about as well as you could have hoped, sweeping the visiting Crusaders from Holy Cross by a combined 41-14.

Courtesy: @Statboy203

If there were lingering doubts that we were going to see a much improved offensive ball club in 2015, the Aggies knocked that out the window during Opening Weekend against Holy Cross. The NCAA's decision to change the baseball by raising the seams was evident across college baseball as a whole this weekend, but A&M still showed some major improvement at the plate against the Crusaders. Let's start off this weekend recap with a new feature this season - the official Good Bull Hunting Three Gig 'Ems for the week!

GBH's Three Gig 'Ems

Gig Em
: Mitchell Nau

My prediction that Michael Barash would be your Opening Day catcher, but Mitchell Nau spent Opening Weekend proving that it is going to be extremely difficult to keep him out of the A&M lineup. Nau started Friday and Sunday's games in the DH spot - one at which there is certainly plenty of competition - and delivered a team-leading .600 batting average and .714 on-base percentage.

Gig Em
Gig Em
: Matt Kent

Coach Childress had options for the Sunday starter role, but junior southpaw Matt Kent rewarded his coach's choice with perhaps the best start of the weekend for A&M. Kent worked 7 innings of 1-run ball (an unearned run in the 1st inning, at that) against the Crusaders, allowing just 5 hits and striking out 3 while walking no one. He did an excellent job of mixing pitches, particularly the changeup, and proved that he has a great shot at staying in the weekend rotation going forward.

Gig Em
Gig Em
Gig Em
: Ronnie Gideon

Although it was an excellent weekend for a number of Aggies, this one really was a no-brainer. Gideon absolutely feasted in the 6-spot against the Crusaders, racking up 11 RBI (not a typo) in 15 at bats including 2 home runs - both absolute no-doubters - and 2 doubles. If we're being critical, he did also lead the team in strikeouts and errors (4 each), the latter of which he'll certainly want to make sure he cleans up, but it's hard to be upset with coming close to averaging one RBI per AB.

Friday: A&M 19, Holy Cross 2

The Aggies got out to about as perfect of a start as you could have hoped for on Opening Day, and this game was essentially over by the second inning. A&M put up 3 runs in each of the first and third innings, sandwiched by a 7 spot in the second, and after that point it was just a matter of cruising through the remaining 6 innings. Ronnie Gideon stole the show with 8 (still not a typo) RBIs in 6 at bats in the game, including a 2-run double in the first inning and a 3-run blast over the left-centerfield wall in the second.

Logan Taylor and Ryne Birk each added home runs of their own, and Mitchell Nau went 2-for-2 with a pair each of RBIs and runs. On the other side of things, A.J. Minter had a strong outing in his first career start at Texas A&M. Minter worked 5 innings against the Crusaders - having some lengthy delays between innings courtesy of the Aggies' offense and Holy Cross' carousel of pitching changes - and allowed 2 runs (both unearned) on 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. JUCO transfer Kyle Simonds lived up to expectations of being the National Junior College Pitcher of the Year in 2014, pitching a nearly perfect 4 innings of relief. Simonds allowed no runs, hits or walks and struck out 4 of the 13 batters he faced.

Saturday: A&M 16, Holy Cross 11

It looked like Saturday's game may be a repeat of Opening Day, with the Aggies putting a 4 spot up on the scoreboard in the second inning thanks in part to a 2-run single from G.R. Hinsley, but A&M starter Grayson Long ran into major issues in the third inning and didn't make it out of the fourth. A single started the Crusaders' 4th inning and was followed by an error by Gideon at 3rd, and Long looked visibly frustrated on the mound. He issued a walk, allowed an RBI single and a sac fly before walking another batter, and then allowed a 2-run double that tied the game at 4.

After the Aggies took the lead again in the bottom half of the third on a Logan Taylor RBI single, Long allowed a single to start the 5th and then walked a pair of batters after getting 2 outs. Coach Childress had seen enough, bringing in freshman Brigham Hill who promptly gave up a 2-run double on a 2-strike count. Holy Cross would put up a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings, but the Aggies would answer with a pair of runs of their own in the bottom halves of each of those frames.

A&M finally put a close game out of reach from the Crusaders with a seven spot on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hinsley led off the inning with a walk, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and was brought home by a sac fly from J.B. Moss. Mitchell Nau and Nick Banks drove in a run each, Blake Allemand knocked in 2 runs with a single and then Moss drove in his second and third runs of the inning before being thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit to a double. The Crusaders would cut into the lead a bit in the eighth, putting up 3 runs all of which A&M reliever Jason Freeman was charged with, but the Aggies would hold on for the 16-11 victory.

Coach Childress and the Aggies will certainly hope to see improvement from Long in his next start against Penn State this coming Saturday, as the other 2 weekend starters for A&M both pitched excellently this weekend. The Crusaders went down in order in the first two innings and it looked like Long would cruise through their lineup, but major problems led to a short afternoon for the Aggies' junior starter.

Sunday: A&M 6, Holy Cross 1

Probably the biggest question mark of the A&M weekend rotation coming into the series was Matt Kent, but as mentioned already the junior lefty answered those questions and then some with an impressive performance on Sunday afternoon. The Crusaders put up an unearned run in the top half of the first inning thanks to a pair of errors by Gideon at third base, but Gideon would waste no time in making up for that. The Aggies loaded the bases in the bottom half of the frame and after a sacrifice fly from Nottebrok and a Banks fly out, Gideon crushed a 3-run moonshot to straightaway centerfield that gave A&M a lead they would never relinquish.

Kent would scatter 4 hits over the next 6 innings, striking out 3 batters and walking none. The Aggies would add a pair of insurance runs thanks to a J.B. Moss 2-run homer in the fourth inning, and a pair of A&M relievers would close the door on the series sweep by not allowing a baserunner. True freshman Turner Larkins worked the eighth inning and struck out one of the three batters he faced, and junior Andrew Vinson looked dominant in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts. A&M fans were surely appreciative that Sunday's game came in at just under 2 and a half hours since the first 2 games of the series went over the 3 hour mark.

Up Next

Tuesday (6:30) - Stephen F. Austin (1-2)

SFA started their season with a 4-1 win over Washington State but then dropped a 5-4 decision to Missouri State and got shellacked 18-9 by UT-Arlington. The 'Jacks have another game with Washington State this evening, so Tuesday's game against the Aggies will be their 5th game in five days.

Friday-Sunday (6:30, 2:00, 1:00) - Penn State (0-3)

The Nittany Lions will come to Olsen Field after being swept on their first road trip of the season by Elon. Penn State dropped a heartbreaker in their Friday game, putting up 9 runs in the final 2 innings to attempt a furious comeback that fell just short in a 16-15 loss. They then dropped both games of a Saturday doubleheader by 7-2 and 11-6 scores.