The Aggies' offensive success from the first two weekends of the season was slowed down a bit during a pair of games during the week, but the pitching staff carried the team to their 8th and 9th wins of the season. A&M now gets set to host Dartmouth at Olsen Field this weekend, with these 3 games being the first ones the Big Green (yes, that is apparently what they're called) will play in 2015.
The only time these two teams have met prior to this weekend was in the 2010 NCAA Regional in which A&M eliminated Dartmouth in a tight 4-3 game. The Big Green will be without their 3 leading hitters from last season as they go into 2015, as 2 of those graduated and the third will miss this season due to a sports hernia. That makes 3B Nick Lombardi the leading hitter returning for Dartmouth in 2015. Lombardi hit .277 in 2014 with 5 HR, 9 doubles, 3 triples and 26 RBI, and he also led the team in slugging percentage at .489.
The temperatures appear set to stay in the frigid range for Friday night's game, warming into the 50's by Saturday but bringing chances of rain for the rest of the weekend. We'll see if the teams are able to get all 3 games in as scheduled.
A.J. Minter (2-0, 0.00) vs Duncan Robinson (7-3, 2.96)
Minter's first two starts for A&M have gone about as well as one could have hoped; the junior picked up wins in both and has not allowed an earned run (a pair of runs were unearned in his first start). In his last start against Penn State, Minter worked 5 innings and allowed just 2 hits with 9 strikeouts, but he did also walk 5 batters. Coach Childress would certainly like to see Minter's control improve in order to cut down that walks number going forward, but it's nevertheless been a strong start to the season for Minter thus far.
RHP Duncan Robinson gets the start for Dartmouth in their opening game of 2015 after making just three starts in 2014 but being named to the First Team All-Ivy League squad. The 6'6", 220lb junior played his high school at Kinkaid in Houston. Robinson did not fare well in his first game last year, but outside of that he posted a 1.72 ERA the rest of the year. His 2.96 ERA on the season led the team and ranked ninth in the Ivy League. Robinson struck out 40 batters while walking 18 and opponents hit just .210 against him in 54.2 innings of work.
Grayson Long (1-0, 4.66) vs Louis Concato (1-2, 3.60)
Grayson bounced back with a strong outing against Penn State after his Opening Weekend start against Holy Cross did not go nearly as well as planned. Long tossed 6 innings against the Nittany Lions last weekend, surrendering an unearned run on 5 hits and a walk with 3 strikeouts as well. Long did improve on his percentage of strikes thrown as well, going from 58% against Holy Cross up to 66% against Penn State. He'll hope to continue that trend this weekend against Dartmouth, as he can be much more successful if he is able to cut down on walks.
Senior Louis Concato will take the mound for Dartmouth on Saturday, finishing second on the team in ERA a season ago. Concato made 9 appearances in 2014 and he did not allow more than 4 runs in any of the 6 of those that were starts. His only victory of the year came against Yale in which he tossed a season-high 8 innings. Concato struck out 14 batters and walked 17 in 45 innings of work, and opponents hit for a .263 average against him.
Matt Kent (2-0, 1.32) vs Adam Frank (0-2, 13.97)
Matt Kent continues to be the surprise of the A&M pitching staff at this very early stage of the season, as he impressed yet again in helping the Aggies complete the sweep of Penn State. Kent worked 6.2 innings and allowed 2 runs on 8 hits along with 6 strikeouts, but perhaps the best stat for Matt this season is that he has yet to walk a batter in either of his 2 starts. Coach Childress loves his ability to grind out starts and attack the strike zone, and his success is very much tied to his ability to avoid issuing walks.
Sunday's game will be a battle of southpaws, as Dartmouth senior Adam Frank goes up against Matt Kent. Frank struggled with command in the first half of the 2014 season, which is why he ended up with as high of an ERA as he did, but he improved a bit towards the end of the year as he saw some successful action out of the bullpen. He made 8 appearances during the year, 2 of them starts, but finished with a total of just 9.2 innings worked on the season. He struck out 5 batters and walked 15 in those 9.2 innings, and opponents hit .389 against him.
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