From the initial preview of A&M that went up Monday, to a podcast on the Aggies, to a look at the regional atmosphere at Lupton Stadium, Building the Dam has the Forth Worth Regional and the first round matchup with Texas A&M covered. Here is the first installment of our game-day (we're inside of 16 hours now...) preview, which focuses on the Aggie offense.
The Texas A&M Aggies-- a team that was projected to win the Big 12 conference at the beginning of the season-- enters the Forth Worth regional at 36-22 after finishing at sixth in the Big 12 with a 14-13 conference record.
Texas A&M ranks seventh in their conference in team batting average at .297. They have hit 80 home runs on the season-almost quadruple the amount that Oregon State has. The Aggies still have a considerably higher batting average than the Beavers, however, as Oregon State is hitting .254 as a team on the season. Another major discrepancy on the stat sheet lies in the runs column. Texas A&M has scored 404 runs throughout the course of the season, compared to the 147 runs scored by the Beavers.
What we're looking at here is a difference in style of baseball. Oregon State and Pat Casey have that one-run-an-inning mentality, where they're hoping to kepe the score low and win by a score of 4 or 5 to 1. For the Beavers, it's going to be about suffocating Texas A&M's offense with pitching and defense, something the Beavers have done well all year.
Texas A&M's leaders:
Joe Patterson, Jr. C/DH: .374 10 home runs
Patterson hit .415 in Big 12 play for the Aggies, and carried a ten game hitting streak into the Big 12 tournament. As the primary designated hitter, Patterson quickly became a team leader in RBI's and home runs at the beginning of the season. He was selected as a Second-team All-Big 12 designated hitter.
Brooks Raley, So. UTL: .315, 25 stolen bases
You probably recognize Brooks' name for his efforts on the TAMU pitching staff. Raley is one of the best utility players in the country, as he will start Friday's game against Oregon State and serve as a viable threat to help himself out offensively. Raley was also a first-team Big 12 selection.
Luke Anders, Sr. 1B: .299, 13 home runs
Luke was nominated for a littnay of pre-season awards and was on many watch lists, yet ended up as only a Big 12 Honorable Mention athlete. He has as made 67 consecutive starts at first base, and hits in the three-hole for Ron Childress' club.
Kyle Colligan, Sr CF: .286, 14 home runs, 11 stolen bases
Kyle has started 107 consecutive games in center field, and was hitting in the leadoff spot for the first part of the season until he moved to the cleanup spot in the middle of the year. Colligan hit .317 in his junior year at Texas A&M, but is still continuing to make a large contribution on offense. His slugging percentage is among the highest on the team, and his speed on the base-paths make him a difficult hitter to contain.
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As a team, the Aggies are scoring just over seven runs per game. On paper, this matchup looks much like Oregon State's matchup with UTEP in the CBI Championship game. UTEP was a team that put up gaudy numbers in the regular season compared to the Beavers, but it was simply because the two teams played completely different brands of basketball. Much in the same way that Craig Robinson's team was able to control the Miners with a steady, deliberate offense and a balanced defense, Coach Casey's club must do the same thing to a Texas A&M squad that has scored nearly quadruple the runs of Oregon State, all while winning about the same amount of games.
As I've mentioned in various posts this week and in the podcast, the pitching and defense is going to be huge for the Beavers. Oregon State likely won't win this game if the scores get above 6 or 7 runs-- it's going to come down to limiting the Aggies on offense. Texas A&M is a staggering 24-4 when they get more than 10 hits in a game, and Sam Gaviglio will need to hit his spots and keep Aggie runners off base.
Rumor has it that Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, will throw out Friday's first pitch before the game gets underway... he's supposedly the second highest ranking politician to throw out a first pitch before an NCAA Tournament game, behind former President George W. Bush.
Once again, the game gets underway at 12:00 p.m. tomorrow from TCU's Lupton Stadium. Next up... a preview of the arms Texas A&M will likely use tomorrow.