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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Aggies rolling into second weekend with 5-0 season start

Photo by Photo by Josh Gleason

Junior Kyle Richardson pitched for relief in the eighth inning, striking out two batters.

Texas A&M started hot on the diamond during its first week of the season, opening with five straight wins. The Aggies aim to continue their winning ways as they host University of Illinois-Chicago in a three-game series this weekend at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
On the mound, the Aggies’ pitching staff put together a stellar week, headlined by their starting rotation.
A&M’s weekend trio of John Doxakis, Asa Lacy and Jonathan Childress were dominant from the left side, combining for 26.1 innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits while striking out 26 batters to one walk. Doxakis’ outing last Friday earned him SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. The junior from Houston went seven innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 12.
“They all got us off to a great start,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said of his starting rotation. “And it’s a luxury for when you do make a move, you don’t feel like there’s a whole lot of drop off … but those starters were pretty stingy with the ball. They got us deep into the game and did a really good job, but I’m really proud of our bullpen too. I know when we make a move we’re not taking a step back.”
Lacy said he felt confident with his fastball command during his first weekend start last Saturday, adding that he did well mixing in change-ups and a few curveballs. Looking ahead to this weekend, Lacy said it’ll be a different approach when facing the Flames.
“They’re going to be a little bit more talented than Fordham,” Lacy said. “They’re extremely aggressive and they’re also an older team. The one thing that was noticeable on our scouting report was the strikeouts.”
UIC comes in with a 0-3 record, though, and currently has the nation’s seventh-worst batting average, hitting .153 as a team. Still, Childress indicated the Flames can be brighter despite a dim opening weekend on the road.
“They have an older bunch, a lot of experience, maybe as much as anybody in the country,” Childress said. “They didn’t play well last weekend down in Georgia in a tournament. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re going to be well-prepared and we’ll get their very best shot. We’re going to make sure they get ours as well.”
Likewise, the Aggies themselves are hoping to have a better weekend at the plate. Through five games, A&M’s batting average is sitting at .274, which is 98th nationally. Second baseman Bryce Blaum indicated A&M might be trying too hard, but finally simplifying things in the middle inning against Prairie View A&M on Wednesday got the Aggies into a groove.
“We care a lot about each other and I think that’s been our biggest downfall,” Blaum said. “We care so much we’ve been trying to push, and our coaches have been preaching to just go have fun. [Wednesday] night from innings five and on, we really did have fun and we had good results out of it.”
A&M hopes its standout shortstop Braden Shewmake can find his way soon. The All-American has been cold with the bat, currently hitting at a .188.
“He needs to take it one pitch, one at-bat at a time and take what the pitcher’s going to allow him to do,” Childress said. “Braden’s such an advanced hitter. He can hit from foul pole to foul pole and line to line and just continue to put one good at-bat together and quit worrying about the sum of all parts.”
In the field, A&M has taken care of business behind its pitching staff, having not committed an error in the past four games after making two fielding mistakes opening night. Blaum said having the starting pitchers establish defensive momentum has helped the team collectively, even with the current lack of power at the plate.
“We know every night we’re going to get a good competition out of our pitchers,” Blaum said. “When you have three guys who can roll out there like that on the weekend, it gives you a lot of confidence. All we have to do is pick up our end and play defense and score a couple of runs for them.”
Despite playing five games in six days this past week, Blaum and Childress both said the team feels good.
“Everybody’s still kind of amped up after that first week,” Blaum said. “You’re really excited after a long layover and we’re really excited for this weekend.”
A&M and UIC are set for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday. Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. with the series concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be aired on the SEC Network and will take place at Olsen Field.

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