Series Preview: Northern Kentucky

WTAW 1620 94.5 Aggie Baseball Featured

Credit to Ben Rikard | Assistant Director, Athletics Communications

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies will host Northern Kentucky for three games in the final weekend series of non-conference play before the gauntlet of SEC play begins next weekend at Blue Bell Park.

TV: The series vs the Norse will be streamed and available on SEC Network+ with the Will Johnson on the call… he will be joined in the booth by Boomer White on Friday and John Scheschunk on both Saturday and Sunday.

RADIO: Each game can be heard locally on SportsRadio 1150/93.7 The Zone… Tyler Pigg will have the play-by-play call 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.

It is Sunday Funday for the finale vs Portland with fans able to purchase one full-price adult ticket and bring up to four (4) kids for free. Kids can also run the bases and get autographs from players following the conclusion of the game.

Sunday will also serve as Military Appreciation Day at Blue Bell Park with two (2) free tickets available for veterans and both active-duty and retired military personnel.

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.

This is the first time the Aggies have ever faced off with the Norse. The Norse will be the third first-time opponent for Texas A&M in 2023, having also faced first-time opponents Seattle U and Portland in weekend series earlier in the year. Texas A&M has only ever faced one current member of the Horizon League, Wright State, in its history. The Aggies are 6-0 against the Raiders all-time, most recently hosting them in 2011.

The Aggies started play in the SEC in 2013, which is the last time Texas A&M lost its final weekend series leading into league play. That year the Aggies dropped two of three games at Cal State Fullerton before sweeping Georgia the following week, its first series in the SEC. Since then, the Aggies have won their lead-in series to conference play 8 straight times (no series in 2020 due to COVID-19).

Austin Bost was just 2-for-25 to open up the season for the Aggies, but has found his stride and carries a 6-game hit streak into this weekend’s series vs Northern Kentucky. The senior is 12-for-23 (.522) with two homers, five doubles and 14 RBI during that streak, including a 1.000 slugging percentage and .593 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 last weekend, driving in a run in all three games and finishing with five RBI, four runs scored a homer and two doubles. He went 4-for-9 with three RBI in midweek wins over UIW and Rice this week.

Among the myriad of records and oddities within the Aggies’ win on Sunday night over Texas Tech was the school-record performance by the Texas A&M pitching staff. The Aggies used six pitchers in the game and with Justin Lamkin’s final two punchouts finished with 23 strikeouts as a team. That mark surpasses the 22 strikeouts Texas A&M racked up in a win over Army in 2020 and is the most by a team in the country in 2023.

The Aggies closed out a winning week with a 4-2 win over No. 24 Texas Tech on Sunday in the finale of the Shriners Children’s College Classic at Minute Maid Park, but it took 16 innings to get in the win column. The game was the longest in the 23-year history of the Classic, surpassing the previous long of 15 innings when the Aggies fell to Jim Schlossnagle’s TCU squad in 2017. It was also the longest game for the Aggies since a 5-1 win over UT Arlington in 18 innings in 2018.

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 leads the SEC and ranks fourth in the nation with 104 walks drawn as a team. Shortstop Hunter Haas leads the team with 16 walks, which ranks eighth nationally.

Lefty Evan Aschenbeck was not on the radar of many coming into the 2023 season, but there may not be an arm more valuable to the Aggies early success than the Breham native. Aschenbeck burst onto the scene with 4.0 innings of shutout relief vs Portland that helped the Aggies recover and avoid a sweep with a walk-off win on Sunday. He threw 2.1 innings on Friday vs Louisville, but then turned around on Sunday vs Texas Tech and delivered a brilliant performance with 4.2 perfect innings of relief in extra frames. He picked up his second win of the year in that game, retiring all 14 Red Raider hitters he faced with eight strikeouts. This year he has totaled 14 Ks against just one walk in 11.0 relief innings.

Freshmen such as Jace LaViolette and Kaeden Kent have been key everyday pieces for the Aggies so far in 2023, but there’s no player on the roster with more of a youthful learning curve than catcher Max Kaufer. The Medford, N.J., product was a midyear enrollee at A&M after graduating early from IMG Academy after the fall semester.

He is one of only four known midyear enrollees in the nation joined by infielders Will Burns and Tracer Lopez of Texas Tech and LSU catcher Brady Neal, who also is from IMG Academy; however, Kaufer will open up SEC play as a 17-year old backstop, not turning 18 until March 25, which makes him the youngest player in the nation in 2023.

To say the Aggies exorcised some offensive demons in last week’s win over HCU would be an understatement. Texas A&M put up 23 runs in just seven frames vs HCU, winning 23-0 for its largest margin of victory since a 30-2 win over Prairie View in 2020.

Trevor Werner tied a school single-game record with 5 runs scored in the game, despite recording just one hit. The Aggie third baseman hit his second homer of the year to open the second inning and walked 3 times, also reaching twice on two of the five Husky errors on the night.