Midweek Preview: Rice

WTAW 1620 94.5 Aggie Baseball Featured

Credit to Ben Rikard | Assistant Director, Athletics Communications

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies will get their third look at the Rice Owls in the month of March on Tuesday when the teams battle in a midweek matchup on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

The Aggies have won nine of their last 11 games after taking the series finale from No. 1 LSU on Sunday at Blue Bell Park and will turn to right-hander Wyatt Tucker for his fourth midweek start. Texas A&M will be in search of its fourth straight midweek win.

TV/STREAMING: Tuesday’s contest can be watched on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app… Will Johnson will have the play-by-play call.

RADIO: The game can be heard locally on SportsRadio 1150/93.7 The Zone… Andrew Monaco will have the call with Rody Barker on analysis… the pregame show begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.

SOCIAL: Fans can get in-game updates on social media by following @AggieBaseball on Twitter.

– The Aggies are going after their third win over the Owls this year after having won 13-1 at Minute Maid Park on March 4 and 6-1 four days later at Reckling Park.

– The teams have not played each other three times in a single season since 2008 when they met once during the regular season and twice during the Houston Super Regional.

– Texas A&M has not won three games in the same season vs Rice since a sweep of the Owls in 1993 in Southwest Conference play.

– The baseball rivalry between the Aggies and Owls goes back over a century with the first game (an 11-11 tie) being played in 1914. The former SWC rivals have played a combined 287 times entering this week’s tilt at Reckling Park.

– The 287 meetings makes Rice the third-most played rivalry in Texas A&M baseball history. Only the series with Texas (369) and Baylor (324) have been played more.

There were a number of heroes from Sunday’s win over No. 1 LSU in the series finale with the Tigers, including junior Stanley Tucker. The transfer from New Mexico JC entered midway through Sunday’s game and three plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a walk. That included a go-head, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth off of Tiger closer Christian Little that surged the Aggies ahead 7-6. The Aggies are 6-0 in games Tucker has played in so far in 2023.

Aggie shortstop Hunter Haas has been stellar for Texas A&M through 20 games this year and enters Tuesday having hit safely in each of his last seven games, the longest active streak on the roster. He is hitting .500 (16-for-32) during that stretch with an inside-the-park homer last week at Houston and three doubles.

The former Arizona State infielder has been everything you could ask for of a top-of-the-order hitter and has reached base in 19 of 20 games this year. He currently leads the team and ranks in the top 10 of the SEC with a .413 average and .526 on-base percentage.

Former Arizona State roommates, Hunter Haas and Jack Moss are now manning the top of the Aggie order with Haas hitting in front of Moss in each game this year. Not only is Haas on fire with a seven-game hit streak, but Moss has raised his average from .264 when the Aggies last faced Rice on March 8 to .316 entering Tuesday’s game against the Owls. He has 4 multi-hit games in his last 6 games and reached base 3 times in Sunday’s win over No. 1 LSU, walking twice and hitting his first home run of the season.

College baseball sees most of its focus on weekend series, but success in midweek battles can pay big dividends in the later months of the season. The Aggies dropped their first midweek of 2023 to Lamar but responded a week later with a 23-0 shelling of HCU and have posted 4 midweek wins since. Typically, the Aggies have taken advantage of their midweek opportunities. Texas A&M was 9-1 in midweek games in 2022 and are now 13-2 in those games under Jim Schlossnagle. Since the COVID-shortened 2020 season Texas A&M is 29-4 in midweek games.

Rated by D1Baseball.com as the No. 11 relief pitcher in the nation for 2023, Aggie lefty Will Johnston was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list just prior to the opening of the season. He’s backed that up with scoreless outings in 7 of his 8 appearances this year, including each of the last 6 times he’s taken the hill.  A 2-out single in the ninth inning on Sunday vs LSU put an end to a streak of 10 straight no-hit innings, but he still managed to go 3.0 scoreless against the top-ranked Tigers to secure the win.

The rank second in the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation with 138 walks drawn as a team. Jack Moss leads the team with 20 walks, which ranks 18th nationally.