MattBob's Baseball Preview-Texas A&M

Oklahoma State, ranked No. 15 in the latest poll, is fresh off a doubleheader sweep over lowly Arkansas-Pine Bluff and set to take on the 14th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies in a huge weekend series for both teams in hostile College Station, Texas. Both teams are in a tough battle for valuable standings in conference.

This series could have implications when it comes to regional host selection. Oklahoma State needs the RPI bump from beating a quality opponent, and Texas A&M needs to close ground on the Cowboys in conference standings. The Aggies postseason resume is very attractive with a 17-7 record over teams that were in the NCAA tourney last season. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have only played one ranked opponent thus far and split two games with Pepperdine.

This Texas A&M team picked to finish seventh in the conference has been ranked as high as 8th in the nation. They are playing extremely good baseball. Their team is characterized by quality starting pitching and outstanding base running. The Aggies feature the second best team ERA in the league with a 3.59 and lead the conference with 99 stolen bases. Just for comparison purposes Oklahoma State, which features decent speed on the base paths, has only stolen 40 bases. A&M is led on the bases by Ben Feltner and Brandon Hicks, who combined have 44 stolen bases, and are the top two base stealers in the conference.

The Cowboys will need to keep the Aggies close to first base. No team has tried to run on this Cowboy team like A&M will. The Cowboys' opponents have only attempted to steal 30 bases, with five of those being caught. Starting catcher Ryan Flavell has only caught one of those stealers.

Texas A&M ace Kyle Nicholson currently leads the Big 12 with a 1.14 ERA. He is scheduled to throw Friday night. In Big 12 play, Nicholson has only allowed five earned runs. If there is good news for Cowboys hitter it is the Aggie defense. The Aggies have 65 errors which is tied with Kansas for the most in the Big 12. However, the Aggies are very tough up the middle as they also have the most turned double plays in the Big 12.

As the season has progressed the A&M lineup has steadily gotten better. There are a pair of Aggie hitters that are especially hot. Shortstop Hicks has hit six home runs in his last 11 games and is currently riding a 17-game hitting streak to go with his larceny on the base paths. Second baseman Parker Dalton leads the Aggies with a .400 batting average. Dalton is not going to get a lot of extra base hits; he just gets on base and lets his teammates drive him in.

If the Cowboys are to have a shot at taking the series this weekend they need to have solid hitting in every game and to get quality innings out of their starting pitching. The starting rotation is extremely talented but for some reason they struggle to get beyond the fourth inning. Luckily the bullpen continues to excel and bail the starters out of some of the jams, but as some of the OSU losses this season attest it will not happen every time.

Two Cowboy players received recognition this week. Senior leftfielder Ty Wright was named Big12 Player of the Week after collecting 10 hits in 22 at-bats in five games last week. Senior centerfielder Keanon Simon was named to a very select list. Simon is a candidate to receive the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, which is given to a senior who exemplifies excellence on and off the field, as a reward for staying in school.

The Cowboys and Aggies will begin their series Friday night at 6:30 p.m. with the Saturday and Sunday games scheduled for 1 p.m. The Saturday game is being broadcast on TV, at least in the state of Texas, by Cox Sports. Audio and live stats are available online at

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