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Texas A&M Baseball

Diamond Notes: Aggies drop three in Starkville despite solid effort

May 3, 2021
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There comes a point in any sports season when the Bill Parcells philosophy applies: “You are what your record says you are.” In A&M’s case, I think we as a fan base took more to the Dennis Green line of thinking: “They are who we thought they were.”

From the first game of the season against Xavier, A&M has looked like a very pedestrian college baseball team stuck in the heart of prep baseball in an area loaded with high-impact high school players surrounding College Station in all directions. A&M has had its moments and a few bright spots in 2021, and in the last three weekends the Aggies stood toe-to-toe and gave No. 1 Arkansas, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 6 Mississippi State (using the D1B poll as of Sunday afternoon) all that they could handle. But what the Ags have to show for their efforts in those 9 games is a paltry 2-7 record. And back to the Parcells theory, A&M is sitting at 24-22 overall and a measly 5-16 in SEC play. Their record says this is not a good baseball team, and the record would be right.

I have said it for weeks, but the Aggies are playing really hard right now. They hung in there for 12 innings against Mississippi State before falling on Friday night, 8-7, and they were right in the fight in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, dropping a 3-2 result. Even the final game of the series, a 10-5 MSU win, was 5-3 in the 7th before the flood gates opened up and State scored 4 unearned runs following a Ty Coleman error at 2nd base.

So just like I wrote in this column last week after Tennessee and the week before that following the trip to Arkansas, this can be a dangerous ball club on any given day, but it’s certainly not talented enough to make any real noise in a loaded SEC this season. You hate to see it end like this for longtime head coach Rob Childress, but as many other coaches have said since the first ball was rolled out centuries ago, “It is what it is.”

Okay, enough with the coach cliches. Not a lot of “G” or “E” this week but here goes. Each week, we look back on the week that was with a “Good, Bad and Ugly” spin-off and breaking it down in four categories: Good. Average. Bad. Excellent. Here is this week’s G.A.B.E. looking specifically at the three losses in Starkville this week.

Good

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Saenz left his start on Friday night with a lead, but the bullpen couldn’t seal the game to earn him the victory.

Saenz and Miller. They weren’t perfect, but with how poorly the starting pitching has been over the last month, it was good to see something — anything — happening positively in the rotation. Dustin Saenz got A&M started on Friday night, allowing 3 runs (all earned) on 9 hits in 5.2 innings. He walked just one and struck out 8 before State eventually got to Chandler Jozwiak for 3 runs in one inning of work. Bryce Miller was all over the map from a command standpoint, walking 8 batters but allowing just 5 hits and one earned run (3 runs total) in 5-plus innings. He struck out just 3 but rose to the occasion in tight jams with Bulldogs all over the bases throughout his start due to the free passes. Miller wasn’t great, but credit him for pitching out of tough spots.

Average

Will Frizzell. Big #50 hit .308 (4-for-13) on the weekend ... average enough by his own standards. But three of his four base knocks came on Sunday when the MSU pitching dropped off significantly vs. the first two games. Frizzell wasn’t able to rise to the occasions in either of the two one-run defeats in StarkVegas, combining to go 1-for-9 in those games. If you get anything from your best player in either game, you probably win at least one of them. Even still, it’s been a tremendous year for Frizzell, who is now slashing .329 / .420 / .612 with 13 homers and 36 RBI to go with a ridiculous 104 total bases.

The Bullpen. There were some bright spots in the series, led by Moo Menefee once again giving A&M everything he had in the tank on Friday night. The burly lefty allowed just one run (earned) on one hit in 3 relief innings of an air-tight contest in Starkville, walking 2 and fanning 4. Moo has been tremendous of late and is getting big outs in high-leverage situations once again. Mason Ornelas was outstanding in game one of Saturday’s DH, blanking the Bulldogs and giving up just a single hit — a single — over 3 innings of work, with 3 walks and a hit batsman and one strikeout. And Chris Weber was very good in chasing Nathan Dettmer in the series finale before giving up 4 unearned runs after an error by Ty Coleman got it all started for State. Weber has been pretty darn salty of late. But on the negative side, A&M was only able to get one inning of work for its best arm, Chandler Jozwiak, and he gave up 3 runs in that frame. Alex Magers allowed a walk-off home run in the 12th inning to Tanner Allen in game one. And Trevor Werner faced 6 batters in game three, giving up 3 hits and walking 2 in 0.2 innings of work. Chris Farrell got the last out of the weekend to close out a porous and hit-and-miss series for the A&M stable of relievers. It wasn’t bad, but it has to be good for the Aggies to win games in this league.

Bad

2B, 3B & SS at the plate. Rough weekend with the bats by the fellas manning the infield spots, as positions 4-6 on the dirt combined to go 3-for-37 (.081), including pinch hitters and everyone who hit in the spots initially manned by a starting non-1B infielder. Bryce Blaum did homer on Friday night but went just 2-for-12 in the series. Ty Coleman went 1-for-6. Kalae Harrison had a nightmare series at the plate, going 0-for-11. In an attempt to throw something at the wall and see if it stuck, A&M rolled out Zane Schmidt after seemingly a month and a half out of the lineup, and he went 0-for-5 with 5 strikeouts while playing 3rd base. And pinch hitters Ryan Targac, Logan Sartori and Bryan Sturges each went hitless in his one at bat in spots vacated by either a 2nd baseman or a 3rd baseman. Not good at all for an entire third of your lineup to not even get within 100 points of Mendoza. Yikes.

Nathan Dettmer. The freshman right-hander is going to be really good in the future, but he’s just not there yet and it’s getting painful to watch. Dettmer is just giving up way too much solid contact against SEC hitters. They aren’t fooled by anything, and he’s certainly not yet capable of overpowering almost anyone in this league right now. Dettmer once again failed to get through even four innings of work, giving up 5 earned on 9 hits over 3.1 frames, walking one and punching out 2. It’s undoubtedly time to replace him in the rotation, and the most likely character to take his spot is Chris Weber, who has been good of late out of the pen.

Excellent

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Alejo has played very well recently and provided the A&M offense a much-needed spark at the top of the order.

Ray Alejo. The sixth-year senior has taken and run with that leadoff spot in recent weeks and was at his best in the three games at MSU. The former Ole Miss outfielder (and transfer from UCF) I’m sure always likes playing well against State, and he certainly did that this weekend, going 8-for-14 (.571) with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. What’s wild is that Alejo reached base 9 times in the series and yet didn’t attempt one steal. You would like to see him allowed to get out and run more than he has because that’s a major part of Alejo’s game. At any rate, Ray has taken a stranglehold on the team batting average race, hitting .344 to go along with an .862 OPS. We’re talking about a first-team All-SEC caliber season in center field for Alejo where under normal circumstances on a good team, you couldn’t deny him postseason accolades. Whether or not he makes it, we need to acknowledge an incredible individual season for the Aggies.

Austin Bost. This young man has been a real breath of fresh air this season and has been white-hot since moving up to the two-hole against Tennessee. Against State, Bost went 6-for-13 (.462) with a double, a homer and 3 RBI. The dude is a certified barrel finder that just hits line drive after line drive, and now when you put him immediately in front of Frizzell, it’s impossible to pitch around him. Nobody on the team hits fastballs hard at a higher percentage than Austin Bost, who now boasts (pun intended) a slashline of .333 / .373 / .575, is second on the team with 9 HRs and 32 RBI (trails Frizzell by just 4 homers and 3 RBI). He also leads the team with 10 doubles this season.

The Five Factors: Offense

Here’s a look at what the Aggie bats did in five critical situational areas in the win over Texas State:

  • Two-outs: .200 (2-for-10)
  • Runners on: .143 (2-for-14)
  • Runners in scoring position: .100 (1-for-10)
  • Leadoff OBP: .375 (3-for-8)
  • Two-out RBI: 1

Here are the five key split stats in the series sweep at the hands of Mississippi State:

  • Two-outs: .206 (7-for-34)
  • Runners on: .217 (13-for-60)
  • Runners in scoring position: .257 (9-for-35)
  • Leadoff OBP: .400 (12-for-30)
  • Two-out RBI: 1.3 PG (4 total)

Here are A&M’s updated season totals to this point in all five areas:

  • Two-outs: .249 (126-for-506)
  • Runners on: .274 (207-for-755)
  • Runners in scoring position: .278 (132-for-475)
  • Leadoff OBP: .362 (145-for-401)
  • Two-out RBI: 2.1 PG (97 total)

The Five Factors: Pitching

Here are the raw numbers from what the Aggie pitching staff did in five critical situational areas vs. Texas State:

  • Two outs: .250 (3-for-12)
  • Runners on: .125 (2-for-16)
  • Runners in scoring position: .000 (0-for-6)
  • Leadoff OBP: .556 (5-for-9)
  • Two-out RBI: 0

Here are the five key split stats vs. MSU:

  • Two-outs: .356 (16-for-45)
  • Runners on: .308 (20-for-65)
  • Runners in scoring position: .243 (9-for-37)
  • Leadoff OBP: .429 (12-for-28)
  • Two-out RBI: 2.3 PG (7 total)

Here are the updated season totals for Aggie pitching to this point in all five areas:

  • Two outs: .242 (126-for-520)
  • Runners on: .249 (188-for-756)
  • Runners in scoring position: .237 (110-for-464)
  • Leadoff OBP: .404 (165-for-408)
  • Two-out RBI: 1.7 PG (80 total)

Parting Shots

Here’s what I would do on the mound this weekend against a very good-hitting Ole Miss team:

Friday: Saenz
Saturday: Miller
Sunday: Weber

Childress has always said that players write their own names in the lineup, and Chris Weber has earned it. Time to see if the veteran can rise up and get outs against a legit SEC lineup in a starter’s role once again.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Jonathan Childress tossed five scoreless innings in last Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Texas State.

If Jonathan Childress looks great early against UTA at Globe Life tomorrow night, you might think about pulling him after about 50-65 pitches, opening up the possibility of using him out of the pen late in the series against the Rebels. There aren’t any more Tuesday games after this week, so Childress will likely be helping out of the pen anyway down the stretch.

The structure of the bullpen, for now, would be weighted as follows in my scenario:

1. Jozwiak (L)
2. Menefee (L)
3. Ornelas (R)
4. Childress (L)
5. Magers (R)
6. Dettmer (R)
7. Werner (R)

Here’s what I would do with the lineup this week:

1. Alejo - CF (R)
2. Bost - DH (R)
3. Frizzell - 1B (L)
4. Minnich - LF (L)
5. Britt - RF (R)
6. Sartori - 3B (R)
7. Blaum - 2B (R)
8. Hoehner - C (R)
9. Harrison - SS (R)

I think that’s about all I’ve got in the tank this week. If you heard the radio show and my big announcement this morning, you know why (haha). It’s been a long year on the diamond, and it sure looks like big, big changes are on the near horizon. For now, just do your best to enjoy the great game of baseball for a few more weeks, and hopefully the Aggies can give us something to cheer about as they close out the 2021 campaign with SEC series against Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU.



Key notes from Justin Seely interview on TexAgs Radio

  • The losing is bad. You're grateful for getting home, but the feeling of getting on that plane is a tough feeling. I took a cold shower in Starkville, which is what I deserved. We earned that. It wasn't a whole lot of good.
     
  • For your players, do you feel like they competed and aired it out? Absolutely. Still, the result is what matters, and we did not get that done this weekend.
     
  • I thought Dustin Saenz was good and very competitive. Bryce Miller was competitive, but I didn't think his command of the strike zone was good. They gave us a shot.
     
  • We were up in the first game and sent out Chandler Jozwiak to get us to the back end of the game. He has given us everything he has, and even the best have a day where they don't have it. Unfortunately, that wasn't his day. Joseph Menefee aired it out for us, but Tanner Allen got the big swing.
     
  • Offensively, we took the starter out of the game early and thought they might not get one of those bullpen arms back for the rest of the weekend. We did some of the stuff we wanted to do.
     
  • Austin Bost has been really good. Ray Alejo was fabulous, and I felt like he was going to get a hit every time he walked to the plate. I thought Bost was going to get a barrel every time. Will Frizzell had to come out of the game on Friday because he didn't feel great health-wise. Those guys at the top were very, very good.
     
  • We were able to run on them, and nobody was able to do that. We just couldn't cash in and make it count.
     
  • With experienced baseball players, it's OK if you don't get some results, but you have to be able to move the offense. With the back of the lineup, Bryce Blaum had a big swing, but outside of that, we didn't do much. To be a championship team, you have to move the baseball and move runners. We did not do that from the back of the lineup.
     
  • Everything is on the table at this point. We will have to check on how everybody is doing today. We have to figure out a way to win games and series to put ourselves in a position to get to Hoover.
     
  • I'm a Rangers fan, so I'm excited to see the facility. People have raved about that place. It'll be fun to play UTA at Globe Life Field. We need to go play our best, and I expect Jonathan Childress will be on the mound for us. It should be a homecoming for him. Hopefully the next time I talk to you, I'll be able to tell you how great it was.
     
  • We have a lot in front of us. The teams we're going to play are all teams playing for something, and two are playing for something similar to us. I've been in this league long enough that the intensity never changes, but the time of year and picture becomes clearer. You're always playing for something in this league.
Discussion from...

Diamond Notes: Aggies drop three in Starkville despite solid effort

1,017 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 14 days ago by SA-AG72
Txgott
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So any thoughts on a replacement for Childress, and if we don't make the SEC tournament will he be fired then ?
TXGOTT
SA-AG72
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