Baseball Preview: Alabama Enters Road Series With #3 Texas A&M
Alabama (23-15, 8-7 SEC) faces the difficult task of traveling to College Station to take on the third-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (30-7, 10-5 SEC).
The Tide hit the road with some added confidence after taking the series against Ole Miss in last weekend's series. However, the Aggies added fuel to their hot streak by sweeping Mississippi State in Starkville.
Texas A&M has been and continues to be one of the best hitting baseball teams in the entire country. In fact their .335 team batting average is second only to North Carolina-Greensboro in Division I baseball. They lead the SEC in slugging percentage (.513), on base percentage (.413), runs scored (303), and hits (441).
Meanwhile, Alabama's numbers at the plate have been dismal. Just to put it into perspective, the Tide is dead last in every batting category that A&M leads. But an excellent weekend rotation has helped Mitch Gaspard's team compete week in and week out.
A popular philosophy in football is that "defense wins championship." As the season progresses, it appears that Alabama will have to adopt that same mantra behind the arms of RHP Geoffrey Bramblett, RHP Jake Walters, and RHP Nick Eicholtz.
Bramblett was just named to the midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list. He has a 3-2 record and a 2.09 ERA in nine starts. Walters is right on Bramblett's heels as he has a 3-3 record and a 2.10 ERA of his own. Eicholtz has only allowed two earned runs in his last two starts.
It will be interesting to see how these starting pitchers will matchup against the Aggies' big swingers. The main player to keep an eye on is their third baseman who is appropriately named Boomer White. White was also named to Golden Spike Award watch list as he leads A&M in batting average (.432). He has just eight strikeouts in 146 at bats.
Alabama will need its entire lineup to show up this weekend. It is especially important for players like shortstop Chandler Avant to continue their hot streaks. Avant has a team-leading 19 hits, 12 RBIs, and 10 runs in his last 11 starts.
Avant and the rest of the Alabama lineup will have their work cut out for them against A&M's lineup. The probable starters in order of appearance will be Brigham Hill, Jace Vines, and Kyle Simmonds. The three starters have a 17-1 record combined. Hill has a 1.59 ERA in 51.0 innings pitched. Vines has a 3.94 ERA and a 6-0 record. Simmonds is the only starter with a loss (6-1).
The two teams have only met 12 times with Texas A&M leading the series 7-5. Friday's game will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. Saturday's is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. CT, and Sunday's finale will be at 1:00 p.m. CT. All games will be broadcasted on SEC Network+.