No. 2 Aggies prepare for Top-10 showdown
No. 7 Rice to pose mid-week challenge
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
For the second consecutive week, the Texas A&M baseball team will adorn the No. 2 rank as they prepare for a non-conference, Top-10 showdown with No. 7 Rice Tuesday at Blue Bell Park.
The maroon and white have not lost a conference series this season, but dropped their most recent mid-week game as they prepare to take on their former Southwest Conference baseball rival.
Despite dropping the series finale, 3–5, against Kansas Sunday, the Aggies secured the series win with an 8–0 shutout Friday, and a 6–4 victory Saturday, improving to 28-8 on the season and 9-3 in Big 12 play.
In the Aggies’ last outing, sophomore Rafael Piñeda (5-1) was tabbed with his first loss of the season. The 6-foot-6 righty gave up three runs on eight hits.
Senior designated hitter Matt Juengel had a productive afternoon on the bases, going 2-for-3 at the plate, while reaching base after being hit twice.
Tempers flared in the top of the seventh inning after junior Tyler Naquin was called out on strikes, as the All-American and A&M head coach Rob Childress were ejected from the game.
The Rice Owls (27-11) are riding a five-game winning streak coming into Tuesday’s contest. After sweeping Marshall on the road 3-0 this past weekend, the Owls moved up in the baseball rankings from No. 9 to No. 7 overall.
The last couple meetings between the two old SWC mates resulted in a split series. The Owls shut out the Aggies last season in a 0–1 contest in Houston while the Aggies beat the Owls, 7–1, during the 2010 season in College Station.
Although freshman right-hander Gandy Stubblefield has gotten the nod the previous three weeks on Tuesday night, the Lufkin native has struggled to make it past the fourth inning – resulting in the Aggies struggling down the stretch and relying on its bullpen.
Stubblefield will look to lower his ERA and pitch further into the game as the Aggies welcome a potent, Top-25 Rice team. The Aggies will also look to use Tuesday night’s game against Rice as a springboard before resuming Big 12 play this weekend against No. 6 Baylor.