After a series win against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, the No. 6 Rebels return to Oxford to open SEC play at Swayze field against the Texas A&M Aggies. Here's a look at the Aggie pitching and batting, as well as a quick rundown of our expectations out of the Friday-Sunday series.
Where the Rebs stand in the SEC:
After one week of SEC play in the books the Ole Miss Rebel baseball team has indeed begun on the right path - a path they hope ultimately leads towards hosting a regional as a national seed in the postseason. Last weekend the Rebels strolled into Fayetteville boasting one of the best records in the nation at 18-1. But, everyone knows it doesn't get serious until you begin conference play, which in the SEC means a 10 week, 30 game, grueling schedule where you most likely host or travel to play some of the best college baseball teams in the country. The Rebels used All-American quality pitching and timely hitting to win the series opener versus the Hogs but a sudden "lack of effort" on Saturday left the series tied with Arkansas' ace on the mound for the rubber match. The Rebels put together an extremely gutty performance facing adverse weather conditions and a late deficit to force extra innings and ultimately pull out a series clinching victory over Arkansas.
Everyone in the SEC who follows baseball knows that the key to being successful is to hold serve on your home turf and try to steal a series or two on the road throughout the season. This is why the SEC opening series win in Fayetteville was so impressive and possibly crucial to the Rebels' chances to not only host a regional but to contend for the conference championship. This week the Rebels will host Texas A&M at Swayze Field in Oxford. This will mark the Aggies first conference road series since joining the SEC. Nothing like your first big road trip being to one of the nation's largest venues with a student section that will find out every detail about you and your family and let you hear about it, huh? The Aggies had the pleasure of hosting an abysmal Georgia team last weekend and took all three games while only allowing six total runs. But we're not Georgia, and we're not in College Station. We'll find out how good A&M really can be this weekend.
We are almost halfway through the regular season in college baseball, which is crazy, we know. But, through 22 games, the Rebels are one of two teams in the conference with twenty wins and are tied with LSU with the fewest losses: two. National writers have the Rebels as a clear top ten team at this point. The pitching staff is extremely deep with very dependable relievers and the Rebels boast possibly the top 1-2 punch in the conference with Wahl and Mayers at the front end of their rotation. The lineup is also deep and hitting at a consistent pace and doing something they failed to do last season, getting two-out RBI's when they are need them the most. The pieces seem to be there again for Ole Miss baseball.
It's too early to delve too deeply into the SEC standings after one weekend but there are a few notable things to point out. First, Vanderbilt is good. We mean like really good. They come to Oxford the first weekend of April. This should be a fantastic series. LSU took two of three from Schtuyte in Starkville. That's a big series win for the Tigers to open the season. At this rate though, the SEC West seems like it may come down to the last weekend but it's still too early to tell. The Rebels need not worry about all that. The focus should be on one thing: the Aggies this weekend. It's all about series wins and taking two of three this weekend will keep the Rebels on pace to have a stellar season and compete within the SEC.
Texas A&M Pitching
Friday - Kyle Martin (Sr. RHP) - This season is Martin's first as a starter after spending 3 seasons coming out of the bullpen. Last season, in 38 appearances, Martin compiled a 6-5 record with a 3.20 ERA over 56.1 innings. Through five starts this season, Martin is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA. He has pitched 30.2 innings, allowing 32 hits and 14 runs (12 earned) to go along with six walks and 30 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .267 against him.
Saturday - Daniel Mengden (So. RHP) - Not only is Mengden the Saturday starting pitcher, he has also started 18 games at catcher. Last season, Mengden started out as the team's closer but was quickly moved to one of the midweek starter roles. He finished the year with a 3-4 record and a 3.83 ERA. This season, Mengden is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 5 starts. Through 34.2 innings pitched, he has allowed 23 hits and eight runs (seven earned) while walking 5 and striking out 32. Opponents are only hitting .193 against him.
Sunday - Rafael Pineda (Jr. RHP) - As the Sunday starter last year, Pineda compiled a 5-1 record with a 2.71 ERA in 15 starts. He was also named to the College Baseball Foundation National Pitcher of the Year Watch List last season. This season, Pineda is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA. Through 14.2 innings pitched, Pineda has allowed 15 hits and eight runs. He has also struck out 10 while walking eight.
Team Pitching Ranks in Conference:
- 8th in ERA (2.97)
- 8th in opposing batting average (.240)
- 7th in strikeouts (159)
- 8th in hits allowed (161)
- 9th in runs allowed (70)
- 7th in walks allowed (67)
- T-1st in HR allowed (3)
Top Texas A&M Hitting
|Sr. INF Mikey Reynolds||.448||0||11||.506||.495|
|So. C/INF Cole Lankford||.342||0||6||.389||.478|
|Fr. OF Jace Statum||.333||0||6||.389||.478|
|Fr. OF Jonathan Moroney||.308||1||11||.431||.329|
|Sr. C/RHP Daniel Mengden||.288||1||10||.409||.392|
|Fr. 1B(Res) Corey Raley||.333||0||0||.333||.333|
Other notes and numbers:
- Away or on a neutral field, Texas A&M has a 2-4 record
- The Aggies look to be very similar to Arkansas in their style of play - low power and very active on the bases (but this isn't to say that they're necessarily analogous talent wise).
- Scoring 104 runs total on the season, with 77 of those runs coming in the 1st 5 innings, it appears that they are adept at getting off to fast starts.
- The Aggies are 13-2 when leading after 6, but only 1-5 when trailing. Oh, and our Rebels are undefeated when leading after one inning, for whatever that's worth.
- They're 44/52 in the stolen base category, with Mikey Reynolds leading the way with 11 steals on 13 attempts.
- The Aggies are riding a 5 game winning streak including a sweep of Georgia at home, however, they have struggling against ranked opponents this year going 2-3 in 5 games against the top-25.
You're already asking if a sweep is probable, aren't you? Well it is certainly something more than a mere possibility this weekend, but we at the Cup wouldn't expect or even bet on as much. A series win though is easily in the cards if the Rebel bats played as well as they did on Friday and Sunday against the Hogs. In addition, if the Rebs can establish early leads and dig into the Aggie bullpen, they should definitely take the series.
Oh, and here's a video of the Solo Cups gettin' drunk at Sardis.
[As always, BeardedGinger, SwayzeField, and Fit4LifeLLC deserve the undying gratitude and praise we at the Cup have to offer for their unwavering support of Ole Miss Rebel baseball and their contributions to our coverage of the sport.]