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Texas A&M Baseball

Series Preview: Eight-game home stand continues with series vs. Wagner

February 23, 2024
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Also included above is a radio segment with Ryan Brauninger, Richard Zane and Scott Clendenin from Friday morning, previewing this weekend’s series between No. 8 Texas A&M and Wagner.


Who: Wagner (0-3, 0-0 NEC)
Where: Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park – Bryan-College Station, Texas
When:

Friday: 6 p.m. CT (SEC Network+)
Saturday: 2 p.m. CT (SEC Network+)
Sunday: 1 p.m. CT (SEC Network+)

Pitching matchups

Friday: LHP Ryan Prager (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Frankie Wright (0-1, 3.60)
Saturday: LHP Justin Lamkin (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Connor Hayden (0-0, 21.60)
Sunday: RHP Tanner Jones (7-3, 4.67 at Jacksonville State in 2023) vs. TBA

Scouting Wagner

First, let’s start by telling you that Wagner College is located in Staten Island, New York, and they are a member of the Northeast Conference along with teams like Coppin State, LeMoyne, Norfolk State and Sacred Heart. The program’s last NEC conference championship came in 2009, and its last NCAA Tournament appearance was 24 years ago in 2000. They are referred to as the Seahawks.

Wagner had a tough assignment on the season’s opening weekend going to Chapel Hill to face No. 16 ranked North Carolina. The Seahawks took it on the chin losing all three games by a combined score of 46-14. Now, they have an even tougher task this weekend in College Station against the No. 8 Aggies.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
With three more wins, Schlossnagle will become the 15th active NCAA Division I coach to reach 900 wins.

The Seahawks’ pitching struggled all weekend with an ERA of 13.88 while walking 32, contributing to a bloated WHIP (walks + hits divided by IP) of 3.13. For comparison, Texas A&M’s WHIP through four games is 0.82. One of the few bright spots on the mound was Friday night starter Frankie Wright, who allowed only two earned runs and struck out five Tar Heel hitters in five innings of action. Griffin White had a nice outing out of the bullpen striking out three and not allowing an earned run in two innings. The rest of the staff struggled mightily. Saturday’s projected starter, Connor Hayden, sports a bloated 21.60 ERA heading into the weekend at Olsen Field. It’s quite the understatement to say the Seahawk's pitching staff will have its hands full with the power-laden, explosive Texas A&M lineup.

On offense, Wagner managed to take advantage of 16 Tar Heel free passes and plate 14 runs over the course of the opening weekend. However, the team batting average of .190 and a slugging percentage of just .276 won’t strike fear into an Aggie pitching staff coming off a dominant opening series against McNeese. Freshman Connor Roche did earn NEC Freshman of the Week honors hitting .333 with a home run and three RBI in his first collegiate action. Lukas Torres is the only other Seahawk to hit above the .300 mark with a .308 batting average. Wagner struggled defensively as well, committing 10 errors and allowing 11 unearned runs on the weekend.

The team’s overall struggles in the season debut are understandable. Located well above the Mason-Dixon Line, Wagner, along with every other college baseball team in the north, struggles with preseason practice time and typically is behind the curve in February versus warm-weather schools. Expect to see a better performance from the Seahawks this weekend, but it will be a tough challenge regardless.

Hitting Avg. Runs Slugging % On-Base % Strikeouts
Texas A&M .356 40 .689 .494 33
Wagner .190 14 .276 .372 30

 

Pitching ERA WHIP Walks Opp. Avg. Strikeouts Fielding
Texas A&M 0.53 0.82 7 .171 47 .977
Wagner 13.88 3.13 32 .374 20 .905


Texas A&M storylines to watch

The competition wasn’t elite last week, but the Aggies made an emphatic statement both at the plate and on the mound. The explosive offense was expected with so many proven power hitters in the lineup led by preseason All-American Jace LaViolette who sent five massive bombs out of the park last week, collected 11 RBI and finished with a sizzling 1.235 slugging percentage. The problem for opposing pitchers is they can’t pitch around him with fellow preseason All-American and projected first-round pick Braden Montgomery right behind him in the batting order. The Stanford transfer made a huge statement in his first plate appearance as an Aggie sending a rocket shot over Section 12 in right field. Despite the power flex, LaViolette did lead the team in strikeouts with seven and chased several pitches out of the zone at times. As far as storylines to watch, ideally, you’d like to see a little more patience on two-strike counts and more contact from a two-hole hitter. It will be interesting to see if head coach Jim Schlossnagle eventually slides LaViolette down to the clean-up spot, where he’ll have more men on base to drive in with his big blasts.

A&M’s offensive numbers were outstanding, with a team batting average of .356 and a record 11 home runs through four games, including Saturday’s contest in 40-degree weather with a brisk north wind knocking down fly balls. The Aggies currently have seven starters hitting above .300, led by shortstop transfer Ali Camarillo’s team-leading .538 batting average followed by Michigan transfer Ted Burton with a 1.100 slugging percentage and a .500 average at the plate. Freshmen Gavin Grahovac and Blake Binderup started their collegiate careers on a high note, both hitting .429.

However, the biggest storyline for the weekend will be the highly anticipated season debut of right-handed transfer Tanner Jones who will get the start on Sunday after a minor injury sidelined him against McNeese.

There’s a lot of depth here, so you’ll see a lot of players rotating and platooning again this weekend as Schlossnagle tries to get a feel for the newcomers in game action. The big storyline to watch is the battle at second base between veteran Ryan Targac and sophomore Kaeden Kent. Targac had the big power numbers two seasons ago but struggled at the plate in 2023. Kent doesn’t have the power potential of Targac, but he showed some flash in the field and is the more dynamic fielder of the pair. The veteran struggled at the plate hitting .111 against McNeese. Kent got the start on Tuesday and reached base three times. So, the competition at second base is heating up, and this weekend could go a long way to determine who gets that job going forward.

On the bump, you couldn’t ask for more from a pitching staff that allowed one run last weekend against McNeese. Starters Ryan Prager, Justin Lamkin and Shane Sdao all looked in control and didn’t allow a run. Prager was the most dominant, striking out nine and not allowing a walk in five innings of action. Schlossnagle rolled out numerous freshmen and new transfers, and they all threw strikes and got outs. The staff as a whole has surrendered just two earned runs and seven walks in 34 innings. According to the A&M skipper, expect to see a few more young arms this weekend. This appears to be one of the deepest bullpens in program history. The challenges for the coaching staff are figuring out the appropriate role for each player and get them comfortable in that role. There are only two to three more weekends to get that done. SEC play will be here sooner than you think.

However, the biggest storyline for the weekend will be the highly anticipated season debut of right-handed transfer Tanner Jones who will get the start on Sunday after a minor injury sidelined him against McNeese. There’s been a lot of preseason buzz surrounding Jones, so he could be just another weapon on the mound.

What’s at stake this weekend

Again, it’s week two, and the opponent is not important. The early portion of the season is to get new players some time under the lights and comfortable playing in front of 5,000-plus fans and competing at the highest level of collegiate baseball with an SEC program.

Given the weather disadvantages and the travel schedule for Wagner, they will have a hard time keeping up with the Aggies. However, Texas A&M has much bigger goals than winning a series against a school in Staten Island, New York. It’s getting to Omaha and winning a championship. That means playing every game in February with the same intensity and purpose as they will in May and June battling for SEC titles and a national championship.

The goal is to win, but the goal is also to get better and find the appropriate role for every player on this deep roster that will pay dividends in the postseason.

Discussion from...

Series Preview: Eight-game home stand continues with series vs. Wagner

2,391 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by ja86
The Marksman
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AG
LaViolence time tonight baby!
Jackson57
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Nice preview, Hop!! Thanks
ja86
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