Feb. 27, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
Games 9-11: Fresno State Bulldogs (6-2, 3-0 MW) vs. No. 23 Texas A&M Aggies (7-1, 0-0 SEC)
|Texas A&M Series Preview|
|Head Coach Mike Batesole
|Soph. Taylor Ward
First Pitch: DH Sat: 2:05pm (Game 1) Sun: 12:05pm
Stadium: Beiden Field
Dimensions: 330 (LF), 400 (CF), 330 (RF)
All-Time Series: Fresno State leads 3-0
Last Meeting: FS defeated TAMU, 2-1 (1997)
Radio: AM 940 ESPN
Play-by-play: Paul Loeffler
Analysts: Rick Lembo/ Bryan Marsoobian
Video: Mountain West Network
Live Stats: GoBulldogs.com
Fresno State is set to face Texas A&M for the first time since 1997 ... it will be the first game the Bulldogs have played versus an SEC opponent since defeating Georgia in game three of the College World Series to win the 2008 National Championship.
The `Dogs have not hosted a school from the SEC at Beiden Field since Kentucky on March 14, 1994.
C/DH Taylor Ward was named MW Player of the Week on Monday for games played Feb. 17-23 (.389 BA, 4 R, 8 RBI, 2B, HR, 2 BB, SAC).
Friday night ace, Jordan Brink, allowed his first earned run after 14.2 IP in the top of the ninth on Feb. 21 last time out. He leads the team with 10 strikeouts.
Fresno State (6-2) swept Nevada, 3-0, in its first MW conference series of the season last weekend and went 4-1 over the week.
Texas A&M (7-1) is on the road for the first time this season.
Fresno State vs. Texas A&M - The Series
Fresno State has played Texas A&M just three times in school history, and are winners of all three. The two school's first met in 1988 as part of the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic at Beiden Field. The Bulldogs won game one, 6-5, and took game two, 4-0, on the final day of the tournament. The last matchup between the Bulldogs and Aggies was in 1997 at the NCAA West Regional in Palo Alto. The No. 4 seed Bulldogs upset the No. 3 seed Aggies 2-1 in the opening game of the six team tournament. The `Dogs would finish as the runner-up of the regional.
Scouting Texas A&M
Led by ninth-year head coach Rob Childress, the Aggies are looking to make an eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Known as one of the best pitching coaches and recruiters in the country, Childress has amassed a career record of 330-183-2 while at Texas A&M and took the program to the College World Series in 2011. The Aggies have posted five seasons of at least 40 wins under Childress. His club was picked to finish third in the SEC West behind 2013 CWS participants LSU and Mississippi State.
Texas A&M is currently ranked as high as No. 18 in one of the three national polls and is 7-1 on the young season. They return 17 players from last year's NCAA Regional team, including Friday night starter Daniel Mengden. The junior is 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings of work so far this season. Senior closer Jason Jester ranks fourth all-time in saves in Texas A&M history. He has 14 for his career and is just nine away from reaching the top.
Offensively, the Aggies have six players with at least 11 at-bats that are hitting over .300 or better. Senior catcher Troy Stein has the highest batting average among the starters at .348. The top producer has been third basemen/designated hitter Logan Nottebrook. The JC transfer is slugging .700 with three doubles and three home runs and a team-high 11 RBI. Texas A&M has a team batting average of .299.
Bust Out the Brooms
In what was the earliest conference pairing for the Bulldogs in the Mike Batesole era, Fresno State swept Mountain West foe, Nevada, three games to zero in games 6-8 of the season. In a pivotal Sunday afternoon game that provided a lot offense, the 'Dogs used an explosive seven run sixth inning to seal the series. Fresno State defeated Nevada 11-9 in a game that produced the most runs the 'Dogs registered to the scoreboard, but also surrendered the most runs to an opponent all season. The series sweep placed Fresno State on top of the MW conference standings.
Taylor Ward Selected MW Player of the Week
The Mountain West announced Monday, Feb. 24, sophomore catcher/designated hitter Taylor Ward earned Mountain West Baseball Player of the Week honors for games played from Feb. 17-23.
The Indio, Calif. native, led the Bulldogs to a 4-1 week, including a 3-0 Mountain West series sweep of Nevada to kick off conference play. During that stretch, three starts as the DH and two at catcher, Ward averaged a .389 batting average with seven hits, four runs scored and eight RBIs. In addition, he hit his first home run of the season and finished the week with a .611 slugging percentage.
For the week, Ward had at least one RBI and one hit in each of the Bulldogs five games during the stretch.
The Bulldogs midweek home game on Wednesday, Feb. 26 against Bakersfield was postponed due to inclement weather. Both schools used a common open date, Tuesday, May 13 (6:35 p.m.) to reschedule the game at Beiden Field. Fresno State now plays its two scheduled contests versus the Roadrunners in back-to-back games, May 7 and May 13. Fresno State has an open weekend May 9-11 before closing the season with a three-game series May 15-17 at home against San Diego State.
Friday Night Lights
Jordan Brink, a utility player from a year ago, has settled into the role of Friday night ace for the `Dogs like a seasoned vet. In two starts, Brink (1-0) owns a 0.61 ERA and a team-lead 10 strikeouts. Last Friday, he was two outs away from his second career complete game before two reached base and Coach Batesole went to the bullpen. Brink's first earned run after 14 2/3 innings at the mound was surrendered after an RBI single, allowed by Jake Shull. Shull went on to get the save and earn Brink's first win of the season.
The Catcher Combo
A significant contribution to the Bulldogs offense this season can be directly attributed to the one-two punch of Trent Woodward and Taylor Ward. The two catchers have alternated between the designated hitter position and from behind the plate on a regular basis through the first eight games. The two have combined to hit .373 (22-for-59) for 12 runs, 16 RBIs, four doubles and one home run. They are two of four players on the team to have registered double-digit hits and make up 40 percent (16-of-40) of the teams RBIs this season.
Bulldogs in Relief
Of the six Bulldog pitchers who have served out of the bullpen and not received a start through eight games, the group owns a 1.86 ERA in 29 1/3 innings pitched. The pen is led Derick Velazquez, the junior right-hander has not surrendered a run this season in 7 2/3 innings of work. He also leads the team in wins (2), picking up victories in relief in the extra inning 1-0 win on opening day, Feb. 14 and again last Saturday, Feb. 22 against Nevada. In the closing role, Jake Shull leads the Bulldogs with two saves.
'Dogs Add One More Arm
Nevada transfer, sophomore Mark Reece, was granted an appeal for eligibility this week, effective immediately. Reece is a right-handed arm from Roseville, Calif. He attended Roseville High School and was named All-Sierra Foothill League his junior and senior year and also earned All-City honors his senior season. Reece threw two no-hitters his senior year, including one at Raley Field -- home of the AAA Sacramento RiverCats. Last year at Nevada, he threw 22.2 innings in 10 appearances for the Wolf Pack, including 5.1 quality innings with six strikeouts in a start against Northern Illinois on Feb. 24, 2013. Reece has three years of eligibility remaining.
"Catch the Wave" - 2014 Fresno State baseball season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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