Series Preview: No. 1 LSU

WTAW 1620 94.5 Aggie Baseball Featured

Credit to Ben Rikard | Assistant Director, Athletics Communications

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies will open the gauntlet of SEC play this weekend by hosting the consensus No. 1 team in the land, the LSU Tigers, for three games beginning Friday at Blue Bell Park.

TV/STREAMING: Friday’s game will be aired on the SEC Network with Tom Hart and Chris Burke on the call… games on Saturday and Sunday will shift to streaming on SEC Network+ with Will Johnson and Boomer White in the booth.

RADIO: Each game can be heard locally on SportsRadio 1150/93.7 The Zone… Will Johnson will be on the call for Friday’s series opener before handing it off to Tyler Pigg who will have the play-by-play call for Saturday and Sunday… Rody Barker will provide in-game analysis for each game… 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.

Friday’s series opener will include the return of Friday Night Postgame Fireworks, scheduled for each Friday night home game during SEC play.

Also available at Guest Services will be St. Patrick’s Day Green Aggies buttons and 2,500 bubbly blasters, courtesy of Pepsi.

Saturday is National Corn Dog Day with a limited number of free corn dog vouchers available, while Sunday there will be a pregame face painter on site and kids will have the opportunity to run the bases and get autographs after the game from players and coaches.

12th Man Rewards is the free program that appreciates fans for standing with the 12th Man and attending Texas A&M Athletics events in support of creating a home-court advantage for our student-athletes and coaches.

The more events you attend, the more your points will increase. Those points can be redeemed via the online giveaway store for a variety of items.

– The Aggies are 29-25-1 all-time against LSU, including 10-10 at home
– The Aggies and Tigers have met each year since Texas A&M joined the SEC for the 2013 season, except the COVID-altered 2020 campaign
– The programs played 11 times from 1989 to 1995 as non-conference foes, but had only played in one series (2004) after 1995 prior to the Aggies joining the SEC
– Texas A&M has won five weekend series from LSU since 2013 with LSU winning four series
– The last time the Aggies won a series from LSU in Bryan-College Station was 2018
– Texas A&M has one series sweep vs LSU, taking all three games in 1978; the Tigers last swept the Aggies in a three-game series in 1991

Since the Aggies’ loss to Louisville to open the Shriners Children’s College Classic, Texas A&M has not revisited the loss column. A year ago, the Aggies totaled 44 victories on the year but never won more than four games in a row at any point of the regular season. In fact, its longest win streak in 2022 was five straight wins during its postseason run through the NCAA Regional and Super Regional to reach Omaha. The last time the Aggies won at least eight games in a row was early in the 2021 season when they closed out pre-conference play with 11 straight wins, a streak capped with a 9-4 win at Houston on March 15, the final game before SEC play opened.

The SEC gauntlet is well known around college baseball, but there’s no team in the country that has a tougher start to league play than what the Aggies will deal with over the next three weeks. The most recent poll has LSU (1), Tennessee (2) and Ole Miss (3) ranked as the top three teams in all of college baseball, and that is exactly what the Aggies will deal with starting Friday at Blue Bell Park. Texas A&M currently has six ranked league opponents on its schedule and five of those are currently ranked in the top 10.

Ranked opponents are certainly familiar to the Aggies but taking on the No. 1 team in the nation is still a special occurrence. Since 2000 the Aggies are 9-15 in games against teams ranked No. 1 at the time of the meeting, but this weekend will mark the first time Texas A&M has hosted No. 1 since Florida came to Blue Bell Park in 2018. This will be the fourth series for Texas A&M vs No. 1 since joining the SEC in 2013 with the Aggies having traveled to Arkansas in 2021 (1-2), hosted Florida in 2018 (1-2) and gone to LSU in 2015 (1-2). The Aggies will be in search of their first series win over a No. 1 team in the country since taking two of three games from No. 1 Nebraska in 2001 in Bryan-College Station.

Since joining the SEC in 2013, the Aggies are 5-4 in series opening league play and are 6-3 in SEC-opening series at home. Last year Texas A&M opened SEC play by winning two of three at then No. 8 LSU before returning home to drop two of three against Auburn.

Austin Bost was just 2-for-25 to open the season for the Aggies but has found his stride and carries a 10-game hit streak into Tuesday’s game at Houston. The senior is 18-for-37 (.486) with two homers, six doubles, a triple, 15 runs scored and 19 RBI during that streak. That includes a .865 slugging percentage and .545 on-base percentage. He kicked off his hot streak with a 3-for-4 performance vs HCU that included a pair of doubles and his first career grand slam to power his way to a career-best six RBI. He then followed that up with an all-tournament showing at the Shriners Children’s College Classic and most recently had an RBI triple on Tuesday at Houston to push his streak to 10 in a row. He has seven multi-hit games during the 10-game run, upping his average to .318 for the year.

Texas A&M pitchers enter Friday with 11 games with double-digit strikeouts, including each of the last three games and four of the last five overall. That includes a program single-game record 23 strikeouts in its 16-inning marathon win over Texas Tech which surpassed the 22 strikeouts the Aggies racked up in a win over Army in 2020. It is the second most strikeouts in a single game by a team in the nation in 2023, bettered only by Vanderbilt’s 24 strikeouts in a 17-inning win over Evansville.

Aside from being conference rivals, the connections between this Aggie team and LSU are few, except for assistant coach Nolan Cain, a former Tiger pitcher who came to Aggieland after Jim Schlossnagle was hired on prior to the 2022 season. Cain currently serves as the Aggies’ recruiting coordinator and will man the third-base coaching box each game but made 73 appearances as a pitcher at LSU from 2006 to 2009, winning a national title in 2009. He then moved into the coaching ranks and served as the recruiting coordinator for LSU from 2016 through the 2021 seasons.

The Aggies had just seven hits in the win over Texas Tech but drew 16 walks. That total set a new tournament record for free passes and added to the Aggies’ overall total for the year. Currently Texas A&M ranks second in the SEC and ranks seventh in the nation with 122 walks drawn as a team. Jack Moss leads the team with 17 walks, which ranks 29th nationally.

It isn’t uncommon for Aggies to show up supporting Aggies, but early indications are for big attendance numbers in 2023. So far, through 12 home games, Texas A&M ranks ninth in the NCAA with an average of 5,427 fans per game.

But look a little deeper and you’ll find that each of the first two weekends of the year are among some of the best non-conference weekends in recent memory. Total attendance for the three-game series’ vs Seattle U (17,844) and Portland (17,654) rank only behind Yale’s visit to Blue Bell Park in 2016 in total attendance for a non-conference, three-game set since the facility was renovated in 2012.