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Photo by Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Texas A&M Baseball

Diamond Notes: Aggies fall out of top-25 following 0-3 weekend in Frisco

March 2, 2020

Where to start? I spent three days at Dr. Pepper Ballpark over the weekend and saw 27 innings of very lousy baseball from the Texas A&M Aggies, who carried a 10-game winning streak and an undefeated record into the Frisco Classic only to drop three games to the first three teams they’ve played that reside in a high-major conference.

A&M managed just three hits and failed to score a run against Illinois in a 1-0 loss. The Aggies got beat down from the word “go” against a UCLA team that has the look and feel of a legitimate national title contender, managing just one hit and falling by a score of 10-2. They closed out the weekend by dropping an 8-5 game to an Oklahoma State squad that also came into Sunday’s action at 0-2 on the weekend, during which the Aggies could not hold on to a 4-1 lead early and allowed the Cowboys to break a 5-5 tie in the 9th inning with three runs, all of which were charged against A&M’s closer and proven late-inning reliever, Bryce Miller, who took the pitching loss in two of the three games.

Insert your own adjective for how to best described A&M’s weekend in North Dallas. Abysmal. Disappointing. Nightmarish.

How about this one: Telling.

The thing about beating up on bad teams is that there isn’t much to learn from it. Do those early season results say more about you as a team or the low level of competition that you face? And when you play a good team or a good set of teams, no matter the outcome, you tend to learn a lot more in your assessment of the current state of affairs.

In sports – and in baseball, specifically – it’s important to not overreact too much during the ebbs and flows of the early portion of the season.

In sports – and in baseball, specifically – it’s important to not overreact too much during the ebbs and flows of the early portion of the season. Things can change on a dime in this crazy game. It’s conceivable that A&M could go back to the drawing board, make a few changes and rip off another extended winning streak against the better competition on the horizon and set back into a nice groove. The Aggies are good enough to do just that, and we’ve seen A&M win quite a bit in the SEC in recent seasons.

But I fully understand those Aggie baseball supporters who experienced the inept offensive display and the mediocre-to-bad defense that has been run out there in each of the past three seasons. I’m with you when you see A&M come off of a weekend when it managed just nine hits in three games, and while you want to say, “Oh, it’s just one weekend and it’s very early in the season,” you’re also not tone-deaf in overlooking the notion that the 2020 season very well could be a carbon copy of the previous three years despite the addition of new third base coach Chad Caillet. How much difference can Caillet make immediately when the starting catcher, first baseman, second baseman, left fielder, right fielder and DH are the same guys that combined as a team to hit a paltry and embarrassing .251 last season?

We can’t get too high or too low in early March when it comes to Aggie baseball, but I absolutely understand where you’re coming from if you have allowed panic mode to set in and find yourself doubting that it will be different this season after the stink bomb that we all witnessed in Frisco.

There are a ton of questions and unfortunately not a lot of great answers in trying to explain how the Aggies got exposed in every way over the weekend. And make no mistake – “exposed” is another accurate term for the three-game showing. But at the same time, I’ll say this: Maybe getting exposed is exactly what A&M needed at this point in a long season.

After a 10-2 loss to UCLA, we asked Coach Childress about possibly shaking up the lineup for Sunday considering that the Aggies had just one hit in the game and only four hits in the first 18 innings of the tournament. His comment indicated that a pretty big shakeup was likely heading into the OSU game. But instead, we saw the exact – EXACT – lineup that was used in game one of the season. And outside of a gift-wrapped four-run 2nd inning that was fueled by three OK State walks and an error, the decision to stick with the same ol’ group in the same ol’ order did not pay dividends.

The funny thing about getting exposed is it forces you to really take a long look in the mirror and examine everything that you are doing. In some ways, especially in this sport with such a long season and plenty of time to right the ship, getting exposed can be the best thing for a team.

At this point, I would like to believe that at-bats and innings on the mound are up for grabs and that nothing will just be handed to veteran names that, on the whole, really haven’t proven to be much of anything as college players. Outside of the Friday night starter, why wouldn’t basically every other spot be wide open at this point? Take a look at Chris Weber and Jonathan Childress in the weekend rotation. Give Mason Ornelas a shot to close out a game and see how he handles it. Continue to groom Alex Magers for important duty as a bridge guy.

Tarah Cochran, TexAgs
Moving Ray Alejo to the leadoff spot is one of several potential lineup changes the Aggies could make moving forward.

Positionally, shake up the top third of the lineup, which went 2-for-32 in Frisco. Why not put Ray Alejo in the leadoff spot or the two-hole? He did earn two-time All-Conference honors as a leadoff hitting center fielder at UCF in ’18 and ’19. The three-hole is an all-important spot in the order, and that spot is in major need of a lift. Perhaps it’s time to insert Zach DeLoach into that spot and provide him more protection hitting in front of Will Frizzell. Maybe it’s time for Logan Britt or Austin Bost to get long looks during the midweek. Let them prove with their play whether or not they belong in the lineup.

At any rate, you get the feeling that change is on the horizon after a very rough three days in D/FW. This is where Rob Childress has to rise above the struggles, identify the issues, make necessary changes and earn his paycheck as a manager.

Will the Frisco Classic turn out to be rock bottom and a turning point for the program moving forward? Or did we just watch the beginnings of yet another season that falls short of expectations? Only time will tell. And we’ll begin to find out very soon with SEC play beginning a week from Friday with a trip to The Plains for a three-game series at Auburn.

Hitter of the Week

C Mikey Hoehner

Hoehner hit .375 (3-for-8) with two RBI and one run scored. He had a critical RBI single down the right field line as part of a four-run 2nd inning Sunday against OSU. He is hitting .292 in eight starts with a .485 OPB and only two strikeouts thus far.

Pitcher of the Week

RHP Asa Lacy 

Lacy worked six innings in a 1-0 loss to Illinois on Friday, allowing just two hits and leaving in a scoreless game after six frames. He struck out 11 and walked three and already has 33 strikeouts compared to just six walks in 17 innings – a ridiculous 17.5 Ks per nine innings and a 5.5/1 K/BB ratio. Silly.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Chris Weber’s 7.36 ERA dropped to 2.61 following a strong week on the hill.

Who’s Hot?

LHP Chris Weber - Allowed just three hits in 6.2 scoreless frames over outings vs. Incarnate Word and Oklahoma State. Struck out nine and walked just two, seeing his 7.36 ERA at the beginning of the week cut down to 2.61 by Sunday evening.

LHP Jonathan Childress - Tossed five scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over Incarnate Word on Wednesday, working his pitch count up to 70 in his second start coming off of Tommy John surgery. Struck out seven with just two walks. Has 10 strikeouts and just three walks in 8.0 innings of work, boasting an opponents average of .111.

Who’s Cold?

1B/C Hunter Coleman - Hit .067 (1-for-15) last week, with his one hit being a deep home run over the left-field wall Saturday vs. UCLA – the only base knock the Aggies managed in the game. Hitting .238/.373/.452 with three of his 10 hits leaving the yard thus far, driving in seven with 15 strikeouts while consistently hitting in the five-hole.

OF Ray Alejo - Hit .083 last week and went 0-for-9 in North Dallas. Hitting .273/.442/.394 with 13 runs but just three RBI.

SS Trevor Werner - Hit .083 last week and went 1-for-8 with five strikeouts in Frisco over the weekend. Hitting .273/.365/.295 with 10 RBI and 10 runs scored. Tied with Hunter Coleman for a team-high 15 strikeouts, and all but one of his 12 hits have been singles. On the bright side, he did touch 98 MPH on the mound in his one scoreless inning of work late in the win over HBU on Tuesday.

2B Bryce Blaum - Hit .105 (2-for-19) last week and went hitless in 11 at-bats, striking out four times from the leadoff spot in the order. Been on the “Who’s Cold?” list after week one and three, sandwiched around SEC Player of the Week honors in week two. Hitting .244/.444/.400 with a team-leading seven doubles, team-best 15 RBI and 16 runs scored.

OF Zach DeLoach - Hit .231 last week and went 0-for-7 in Frisco. Walked five times last week and struck out just once but failed to drive in a run in five games. Still hitting .472/.615/.889 with a team-best four home runs and 11 RBI. Has struck out just one time in 2020.

1B Zane Schmidt - Hit .143 last week with one RBI and one run scored. Average dropped from .412 to .333 over the last seven days.

OF Cam Blake - Hit .167 last week and had just one hit in Frisco. Hitting .200/.317/.314 with six RBI and five runs scored while typically hitting in the two- or three-hole.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Christian Roa lasted only 4.2 innings against UCLA, giving up five earned runs on eight hits.

RHP Christian Roa - Allowed five earned runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings vs. UCLA on Saturday, giving up a pair of two-run homers. He fanned seven batters but uncharacteristically issued four walks in the outing. He’s 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA and has fanned 29 hitters compared to just five walks (5.8/1) in 15.2 innings of work (16.7 Ks per nine innings).

LHP Chandler Jozwiak - Allowed five runs (one earned) on nine hits over 4.1 innings in a loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday. He walked one and fanned just one Cowboy hitter. He’s 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a .322 opponents average through three starts, fanning 10 with just two walks (5/1) in 13.2 innings.

RHP Bryce Miller - Saddled with two pitching losses after allowing a run in the 8th inning of Friday’s loss to Illinois and a three-spot in the 9th inning of Sunday’s defeat at the hands of OSU. After throwing up zeroes in his first three outings, Miller gave up four earned runs in 2.1 innings last week. He’s 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA and has nine strikeouts vs. two walks (4.5/1) in 7.1 innings.

Five Key Factors on Offense:

Here’s a look at what the Aggie bats did in five critical situational areas in Frisco:

  • Two-outs: .107 (3-for-28)
  • Runners on: .107 (3-for-28)
  • Runners in scoring position: .143 (2-for-14)
  • Leadoff OBP: .185 (5-for-27)
  • Two-out RBI: 1

Here’s updated season totals to this point in all five areas:

  • Two outs: .317 (46-for-145)
  • Runners on: .327 (74-for-226)
  • Runners in scoring position: .312 (49-for-157)
  • Leadoff OBP: .438 (46-for-105)
  • Two-out RBI: 3.0 PG (39 total)

That’s a 51-point dip in two-out hitting, a 32-point drop in hitting with runners on, minus 17 in hitting with runners in scoring position, a 100-point drop in leadoff OBP and just one total two-out RBI in five games.

Five Key Factors on the Mound:

Here are the raw numbers from what the Aggie pitching staff did in five critical situational areas vs. the tournament field in Frisco:

  • Two outs: .278 (10-for-36)
  • Runners on: .309 (21-for-68)
  • Runners in scoring position: .286 (10-for-35)
  • Leadoff OBP: .385 (10-for-26)
  • Two-out RBI: 1.5 PG (5 total)

Here’s updated season totals to this point in all five areas:

  • Two outs: .233 (35-for-150)
  • Runners on: .255 (54-for-212)
  • Runners in scoring position: .188 (22-for-117)
  • Leadoff OBP: .336 (38-for-113)
  • Two-out RBI: 0.8 PG (10 total)

The Aggie pitching numbers took a 14-point drop in two-out hitting, a 26-point dip in hitting with runners on, a 45-point decline in hitting with runners in scoring position, a 14-point drop in leadoff OBP and gave up as many RBI in the three games (five) as they had allowed in total with two outs through the first 10 games of the season.

Hopefully for A&M, Childress and Co. can go back to the drawing board and quickly recover and get better after a brutally rough weekend.

So there you have it. Not much to write about on the pretty side of things this week. Hopefully for A&M (and for the collective sanity of the entire Aggie baseball fan base), Childress and Co. can go back to the drawing board and quickly recover and get better after a brutally rough weekend. The Ags host A&M-Corpus Christi and Abilene Christian in the midweek before welcoming New Mexico State to Olsen Field for a three-game series this weekend. The other Aggies have a shortstop named Nick Gonzalez that is a legitimate high-end first-round prospect, who is already sitting at 12 home runs and 36 RBI through 13 games. He’s hitting .500/.652/.1.354 for the 12-1 Aggies and blasted five home runs in a doubleheader on Saturday (one being an inside-the-park homer). This weekend will provide a rather salty challenge one week prior to opening up SEC play at Auburn.

Discussion from...

Diamond Notes: Aggies fall out of top-25 following 0-3 weekend in Frisco

6,747 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by Aggieangler93
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Excellent article, Gabe, providing an objective, thorough, and realistic assessment at this stage of a young season. Blue star for you. :-)
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Childress must go!
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Hope is not a strategy. We've all seen this movie too many times. It's time to put up or shut up.
"They who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin
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Well written, Gabe! Nicely said. Honest and still managed to be diplomatic and hopeful. There is certainly still hope. It's cheap so I'm indulging.

I was there Fri and Sat. The only hopeful thing I remember was Ornelas and, of course, Asa. Roa is still struggling a bit but UCLA is a tough lineup, so the worst thing was putting the leadoff man on constantly then having to struggle to overcome the hole he put himself in. UCLA knows how to take advantage.

It's early, but it's early for UCLA and Illinois, too, and they managed to play a decent all-around game of defense, pitching, and offense.

Another good point you make: there's not much way for fans to evaluate how things are going when we play pushovers. It may be that the coaches don't learn much either.

Finally, is this team too slow to take advantage of the new coach's run and bunt and scramble style?
Strike One
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Great article, Gabe. Keep up excellent work on the baseball scene!
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I'd like to see us play better teams earlier in the season. I know some don't as our RPI could be impacted before we really get in a groove. It seems like we play 14 home games against nobody's each year, and then we get a chance to actually see how good we are in March.
Class of '93 - proud Dad of a '22 grad
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