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Houston College Classic Preview

Fightin' Texas Aggie Baseball started the 2015 season with a perfect 13-0 homestand, including their biggest win against Dallas Baptist, but now face their first true test of the season as they leave home and head to the Houston College Classic.

After cruising to weekend sweeps in each of their first 3 series of the season, as well as 3 midweek wins, Aggie Baseball faced their toughest opponent of the season on Tuesday when they took on Dallas Baptist. The Aggies and Patriots traded runs in the bottom of the first and top of the second, and Dallas Baptist took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 4th. A&M hit right back with a 4 spot in the bottom half of the inning, led by a 2-run HR that Logan Taylor crushed to dead center. Dallas Baptist would again tie the game in the 7th only to see A&M take the lead right back thanks to a Ryne Birk RBI single and a Hunter Melton walk with the bases loaded. Andrew Vinson would pick up the win on the evening, with Ryan Hendrix earning his 3rd save of this season.

The Aggies will now prepare for their first weekend series against meaningful competition, which should give us a clearer picture of just how good this A&M team really might be in 2015. A&M dropped a 10-8 decision to the Houston Cougars in a midweek game at Olsen Field last season, but this will be the first meeting between the Aggies and Bears on the diamond since A&M left for the SEC (Baylor swept the Aggies in 2012) and the first meeting between the Ags and Cornhuskers since the 'Huskers departed for the Big 10 (A&M swept Nebraska in 2011). I imagine all 3 of these teams are looking forward to squaring off in Houston this weekend, so what can we expect in the matchups at Minute Maid Park?

Weekend Matchups

Friday: A&M (13-0) vs Nebraska (6-4)

Time: 3:35pm
TV: ROOT Sports Southwest
Audio: 12th Man TV, 1150AM The Zone

Probable Pitchers: A.J. Minter (2-0, 0.56) vs Chance Sinclair (1-2, 5.74)

Minter allowed his first earned run of the 2015 season - in addition to 2 more unearned runs courtesy of yet another Ronnie Gideon error - but did not factor into the decision of Friday's game against Dartmouth, as the Aggies had to rally by scoring 4 runs in the 8th to remain undefeated. Minter allowed 6 hits over 6 innings of work, striking out 7 batters and walking just one. AJ continues to lead the team in strikeouts with 23 in just 16 innings of work over his 3 starts, although I'm sure Coach Childress wouldn't necessarily mind seeing his pitch count come down a bit to allow him to start working deeper into games. Having said that, the Aggies' bullpen has been quite strong to start the season, so Childress is comfortable with making a move when necessary.

RHP Chance Sinclair took the loss in Nebraska's series-opening game last weekend against Loyola Marymount, his second loss in 3 starts so far in 2015. The Huskers' senior allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings of work against LMU, walking 2 batters and striking out 3. Sinclair has allowed 10 earned runs in 15.2 innings of work over his 3 starts this season, along with 5 walks and 13 strikeouts. His lone victory came in Nebraska's opening game against UNLV in which he scattered 8 runs over 5.2 scoreless innings, not issuing any walks and striking out 7. Sinclair was a Third-Team All-American in 2014, the first Husker pitcher to earn any All-American honor since 2008, after finishing the season 9-1 with a 2.15 ERA in over 100 innings of work over 16 starts.

Texas A&M Nebraska
Batting Avg .342 .259
Avg Runs/Game 8.9 4.0
Home Runs 17 2
Stolen Bases 11 9
Top Hitters

C Mitchell Nau (.450, 11 RBI)
OF Nick Banks (.444, 14 RBI)
OF Logan Taylor (.405, 5 HR, 11 RBI)

3B Blake Headley (.351, 13 RBI)
CF Ryan Boldt (.459, 3 RBI)
2B Jake Schleppenbach (.361, 1 RBI)

Team ERA 1.85 2.63
Batting Avg Against .234 .245

Saturday: A&M (13-0) vs Houston (8-5)

Time: 7:05pm
TV: ROOT Sports Southwest (Tape Delayed)
Audio: 12th Man TV, 1150AM The Zone

Probable Pitchers: Grayson Long (2-0, 3.45) vs Jake Lemoine (1-0, 3.38)

The Aggies got another strong start from Grayson Long last Saturday, hopefully further distancing himself from his first outing of the season against Holy Cross. Long tossed 6 innings of 1-run ball against Dartmouth, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks with 4 strikeouts. The lone run for the Big Green came on a 2-out solo HR to RF in the third inning, but Grayson showed no signs of being affected by the blast. Although he was not necessarily dominant in the game, the Aggies were able to cruise to a comfortable 8-1 victory. Going up against the Houston offense will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge of the young season so far for the A&M junior.

RHP Jake Lemoine has started Saturdays so far this season for UofH, so he is your likely opposition for the Aggies. The Cougars' junior pitcher was a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team this summer and was named to the American Athletic Conference Second Team after going 6-8 with a 2.87 ERA in 17 starts during his sophomore year. Lemoine has not earned a decision in either of his last 2 starts this season, with his lone win thus far coming in the opening series against Minnesota in which he scattered 6 hits over 5 shutout innings, walking no one and striking out 6. He has given up 3 earned runs in each of his last 2 starts, against Alabama and Columbia, although he did last 7 innings in the most recent one against Columnia. Lemoine has only walked 2 batters in 16 innings this year.

Texas A&M Houston
Batting Avg .342 .277
Avg Runs/Game 8.9 6.1
Home Runs 17 7
Stolen Bases 11 21
Top Hitters

C Mitchell Nau (.450, 11 RBI)
OF Nick Banks (.444, 14 RBI)
OF Logan Taylor (.405, 5 HR, 11 RBI)

1B Chris Iriart (.348, 3 HR, 11 RBI)
RF Kyle Survance (.333, 6 RBI, 11 SB)
SS Connor Wong (.321, 2 HR, 14 RBI)
C Ian Rice (.226, 1 HR, 10 RBI)

Team ERA 1.85 3.22
Batting Avg Against .234 N/A

Sunday: A&M (13-0) vs Baylor (6-5)

Time: 2:35pm
TV: ROOT Sports Southwest
Audio: 12th Man TV, 1150AM The Zone

Probable Pitchers: Matt Kent (3-0, 2.29) vs Adam Frank (0-2, 13.97)

Although he didn't fare quite as well in his most recent outing as in his previous two starts, Matt Kent did enough to get through 6 innings and pick up his 3rd win of the season. Dartmouth tallied a run in the first and 3 in the third but would not score again; Kent finished the day with 4 runs - 3 earned - allowed on 8 hits along with 8 strikeouts. The southpaw did issue his first walk of the 2015 season in that game against Dartmouth, but he still sits at just 1 free pass issued through 19.2 innings of work.

Until Baylor announces their starters for the weekend, it is difficult to guess who will go up against Matt Kent on Sunday. The Bears have started 3 different pitchers in each of their 3 final games of weekend series so far in 2015 - RHP Ryan Smith (0-0, 2.70), RHP Drew Tolson (0-1, 5.62) and RHP Theron Kay (2-0, 1.46). Once Baylor announces their starters, we'll update this section.

Texas A&M Baylor
Batting Avg .342 .280
Avg Runs/Game 8.9 5.6
Home Runs 17 3
Stolen Bases 11 14
Top Hitters

C Mitchell Nau (.450, 11 RBI)
OF Nick Banks (.444, 14 RBI)
OF Logan Taylor (.405, 5 HR, 11 RBI)

CF Logan Brown (.359, 8 RBI, 4 SB)
1B/C Aaron Dodson (.429, 1 HR, 5 RBI)
2B Jake Schleppenbach (.361, 1 RBI)

Team ERA 1.85 5.29
Batting Avg Against .234 .294

If you're in Houston or anywhere close, this is always a really fun tournament to be a part of. Tickets aren't expensive (here's a link to the weekend schedule and ticket prices) and you don't have to worry about bad weather with the retractable roof at Minute Maid. Get on out and support an A&M team playing some pretty fun baseball! BTHO Everyone!