No. 5 Aggies host tough DBU squad

The Texas A&M baseball team steps out of conference this weekend for a three-game set with Dallas Baptist.

While a non-conference series smacked right in the middle of a league title run seems like it's a "take off," weekend, this weekend's series against Dallas Baptist may actually have more profound implications than many of the Big 12 ones. Dallas Baptist enters the weekend with an RPI of 44, which would be good enough for sixth in the Big 12. Two weeks ago the RPI was the only significant knock on A&M's national seed resume, and the Ags have already worked themselves into the Top 8. A series against a Top 50 opponent, however, only helps improve and cement the "strength of schedule" component, which comprises 75% of the RPI formula.

As their rating indicates, A&M will have their hands full with the Patriots, who are also playing for major postseason implications. DBU has spent just a few years as a Division I school eligible for the NCAA tournament, and are angling to become the first Independent in some time to earn a spot in the postseason. One or more road wins against the Top 5 ranked and Top 8 RPI Aggies would be a major feather in their cap, and A&M will see the best that the Pats have to offer.

The Patriot offense has the stats of an above average, free swinging group that will beat you in different ways. They enter the weekend batting .329 and scoring over eight runs per contest. They're active on the basepaths (51 swipes in 65 tries), and are slugging an impressive .495 for the year. All nine everyday starters are batting over .300 on the season. On the hill, the Pats will feature one of the deeper pitching staffs that the Aggies have faced in recent weeks. Ten hurlers have tossed at least 25 innings for them, and the team ERA sits at a fair 4.45.

That stat book also shows some areas that the Aggies must exploit to take this weekend series. The Pats are indeed a free-swinging group, an identity that helps provide their solid power but also leads to free outs, as they strike out 1.66 times more than they walk. Their fielding percentage is a pedestrian .961, making it more important for the Aggies to keep putting the ball in play. DBU also struggles on those same basepaths where they apply pressure, as nearly 2/3 of all attempted opponent base stealers complete their job successfully.

Despite their impressive 29-13 record, the Pats have struggled of late and a Thursday win may help keep them in a losing mindset. The Pats are 3-3 in their last six games, including losing their last two to Sam Houston State (10-8) and Northern Colorado (10-1). Opponents have also scored double digits against them in the past four games. Despite those negative indicators, they also have some more impressive wins that mentally show that they can compete against Big 12 foes; they've defeated Rice twice and took a midweek contest against Baylor earlier this year.

The series will be a non-traditional Thursday-through-Saturday series, with games set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with a 2 p.m. finale on Saturday.

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