Aggies' offense comes to life in tournament

After a slow start at the plate, the Aggies' offense came to life this weekend against three quality teams. A&M scored 30 runs in the weekend sweep to capture it's 12th Domino's Pizza Classic title in the 16-year history of the event. Aggie Websider's Lanny Hayes takes a look back at the weekend.

The team offense that everyone expected to see in the 2008 Aggie baseball team made its first appearance at Olsen Field, leading A&M to a championship sweep in the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic.

In a regional-quality field, A&M came from behind to take down Ohio State, 8-5, on Friday, then battered Arkansas, 15-7, on Saturday before handling Louisiana Tech, 7-4 in the weekend finale.

The wins bring A&M to 7-2 on the season, and more importantly have changed the focus around the offense from "where?" to "there!"

After scoring just 17 runs and batting .261 in the four game series against relatively lowly Northern Colorado, the bats took over the weekend scene with a statistical explosion.

Against a much tougher field, the team scored 30 runs through a .353 batting average. The Aggies used all phases of the offensive game to earn the tournament crown, slugging .608 and reaching base at a .457 clip. The long ball was in play (5 homers) and the speed game was there, too (6 stolen bases, four triples).

Individually, A&M was led by tournament MVP Jose Duran, who went 7-for-13 (.538) with a homerun, two RBI, four runs scored and several great defensive plays at shortstop.

Duran's move to the middle of the Aggie order may have been the catalyst for the team's success this weekend, as his hard-swinging and put-the-ball-in-play style was able to provide protection for a Blake Stouffer, who is still struggling to find a groove at the plate, (2-for-9, but with 5 RBI and 2 runs scored) and a warm body on the basepaths to help Luke Anders (.625-0-3, .692 OBP).

Dane Carter continued his red-hot start to 2008, hitting .333 with a homer, two RBIs and a trio of runs scored. Kyle Colligan threw in a .461 weekend that featured a mammoth (at least in height) home run to lead off Saturday's game, combined with a total of five runs scored and three RBI.

Brodie Greene may be close to sealing up the right field starting role after a solid weekend (.333-1-3, 3 runs scored, SB), while Brian Ruggiano's offense (.272-0-4, 3 R, 2 3B) continues to make up for some issues behind the plate.

The weekend on the hill wasn't as statistically spectacular as last weekend, as no starter threw a "quality game." The best starting effort came from Scott Migl on Sunday, who gave up just three hits and four runs (one earned) in 5.1 innings of work.

Two of those hits accounted for all four Louisiana Tech runs – both homers by lead off hitter Adam Cobb.

Barret Loux struggled with his control against a free swinging Arkansas team on Saturday, and left after just two-plus innings of work, allowing a pair of earned runs while striking out a pair.

Kirkland Rivers had more Friday night blues, giving up five runs (all earned) in 2.1 IP. The Aggie starters finished the weekend with a troubling 7.45 weekend ERA.

Once again, however, the A&M bullpen had a nice weekend and cleaned up many of the messes left for them.

Kyle Thebeau threw six shut-out innings to spell Rivers on Friday night before handing the ball to Travis Starling, who struck out both batters that he faced to earn his second save.

Arkansas was able to score five runs against Aggie relievers Brooks Raley and Hank Robertson, but the pair did well to limit the bullpen's exposure in a nearly four hour contest , and struck out six batters for good measure.

Kevin Cravey and Starling combined to throw 3.2 innings of one-hit ball to keep LaTech out of Sunday's contest, and Starling earned his third save of the season on Sunday.

The Aggie bullpen ended the contest with a 2.60 weekend ERA.

Duran, Anders, Colligan, Starling, and Thebeau were all named to the All-Tournament Team.

A&M returns to action Tuesday night at 6:30 PM against Nicholls State, and will play them again on Wednesday at 3 PM.

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