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

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

The Battalion

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Transfers making presence felt

The Texas A&M baseball team is ranked No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and No. 24 by Baseball America thanks in large part to the six junior college transfers who have made an impact for the Aggies.
Last year’s team had strong pitching, which has returned this year for the most part, but lacked the ability at the plate to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, which was so important to the 1999 team that advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
This year, two of those six transfers, junior outfielders Cory Patton and Justin Ruggiano, have joined the Aggie squad and say that their goal is simple — providing the run production that the Aggies lacked last year.
“It’s all about getting hits at the right time,” Patton said. “Coach (Mark) Johnson always says ‘RBIs win games, not hits.'”
If RBIs are indeed the difference, then Patton will be a huge pickup for the Aggies this year.
The 5-foot-10 power-hitting right fielder from Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan., led the team with a .465 batting average in 2002, and led the nation with 31 home runs and 119 RBIs.
Following his standout year at Seward County, Patton was named the National Junior College Player of the Year and the National Junior College Athletic Association Male Athlete of the Year. Patton also pitched 70 innings and finished the season with an 8-1 record that led his team to a conference championship and to the Region IV finals.
A&M Head Coach Mark Johnson said that he was extremely happy to pick up the junior college All-American and was glad to have his big bat in the lineup.
“(Patton) has been big for us,” Johnson said. “He swings the bat extremely well.”
Ruggiano did not get national attention at Blinn College in Brenham last year, but he did receive attention from Johnson.
The 6-foot-2 center fielder from Austin said that when he got the call from Johnson, he didn’t have to think twice about the decision and came in large part because of the reputation and the tradition A&M has.
“When Coach Johnson called me up, I knew this is where I wanted to play,” Ruggiano said.
Both players said that there are significant differences between playing at the junior college level and Division I baseball. Patton said that the biggest difference to him on the field was stronger pitching.
“The pitchers here (in Division I) don’t throw a lot harder, but they hit the spots much better,” he said.
Off the field, Patton said that the classes at A&M are a lot tougher than they were in junior college.
Ruggiano said that the biggest difference to him was the crowd at Olsen Field, which was ranked No. 4 in the nation last year in attendance behind LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama.
“We had 50 to 100 people at our games (at Blinn),” Ruggiano said. “The crowd here is unbelievable.”
Despite the larger crowds and the better pitching, Patton and Ruggiano have already made large contributions to the Aggie squad this year.
Both are among the team leaders heading into Monday night’s doubleheader in home runs, RBIs and batting average. Among the players with at least 25 at-bats, Ruggiano leads the team with a .333 batting average, and is second on the team behind Patton in hits with 11.
Patton leads the team with three home runs, 12 hits, 11 RBIs, 23 total bases and a slugging percentage of .590.
Patton and Ruggiano will be key players this year for the Aggies if they are to get back into the playoffs for the first time since their College World Series appearance in 1999.

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