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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies head to Arizona for weekend series

The Texas A&M baseball team is off to a hot start, and the nation is taking notice. The Aggies have climbed as high as No. 16 in some polls after beginning the season unranked.
Helping the Aggies (9-2) climb the national rankings are the performances of a handful of newcomers. Among the new faces is junior transfer Cory Patton, the 2002 National Junior College Player of the Year. Patton is on a streak of his own as he hit two home runs and knocked in 10 RBIs during his Most Valuable Player performance in the Domino’s Pizza Aggie Classic last weekend.
“I was real anxious and jumping at the ball and trying to do too much early (in the season),” Patton said. “We’ve settled down and I’ve settled down now and found a little success.”
In all, the Aggie baseball team has welcomed 17 new players to this season’s squad. Eleven of those are freshmen, and plenty have seen playing time. Freshman third baseman Cliff Pennington has played in 10 of the Aggies’ 11 games and has a batting average of .333. Freshman pitcher Robert Ray threw five shutout innings against UCLA in A&M’s 3-0 win. It was Ray’s first outing after having knee surgery.
“I think we’ve got a great class of freshmen,” Ray said. “It was good getting out there and getting some experience.”
Now the newcomers will travel to Tucson, Ariz. with the rest of the Aggie team and try to keep the hot streak alive as they take on the University of Arizona (9-4).
Arizona is one of the most storied programs in the nation, now playing in its 100th season. During that time the Wildcats have reached 14 College World Series and won three national championships. The season is shaping up to be another solid one for Arizona.
The Wildcats already boast wins over Big 12 teams such as No. 8 Baylor and Oklahoma State. Arizona has won six of its last seven games.
The Aggies will most certainly see Arizona junior pitcher Sean Rierson on the mound. Rierson started the season slow, but was named the Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger National Pitcher of the Week after he threw a two-hit shutout against the University of California-Irvine.
Rierson will be a true test for new Aggie sluggers such as Patton and junior transfer Justin Ruggiano. To have success against Arizona the Aggies must see production at the plate and have production from their newcomers.
“We played on average four freshmen a ballgame (at the Domino’s Pizza Aggie Classic),” said A&M Head Coach Mark Johnson. “We’ve talked about the junior class, but there are some freshmen that have really done a good job. Our junior class is going to have to help us, but our freshmen really stepped up.”
Last season the Aggies swept Arizona in a three-game series at Olsen Field. In Tucson, the Aggies have lost five of six to the Wildcats.
First pitch is Friday at 4 p.m. at Frank Sancet Field in Tucson.

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