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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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A&M baseball travels to Florida to take on the No. 2 Gators

This+weekend%2C+the+Aggies+will+face+the+Gators+in+a+No.+1-versus-No.+2+SEC+showdown.
Photo by File

This weekend, the Aggies will face the Gators in a No. 1-versus-No. 2 SEC showdown.

A&M baseball celebrated Easter weekend with a series win over LSU, making them the No. 1-ranked team over their upcoming opponent Florida.

This weekend, the Aggies will face the Gators for a No. 1-versus-No. 2 SEC showdown in Gainesville.

The Aggies (22-3, 4-2 SEC) enter the contest after defeating Houston Tuesday night in a midweek matchup. Junior outfielder Nick Banks, who has struggled for a majority of the year, looks to be getting into proper form. He homered Sunday against LSU and once again Tuesday night in a 3-for-4 effort where he managed two RBI.

A&M’s statistics mirror it’s No. 1 spot — the Aggies lead the SEC in batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.508) and is second in the league in runs scored (203).

J.B. Moss, Michael Barash and Hunter Melton lead the team with four dingers apiece and four more Aggie hitters have tallied two or more thus far. Eight players have 15 or more RBI this year and Melton leads the charge with 28.

Meanwhile, Florida (24-3, 4-2 SEC) has been one of the nation’s best and most consistent teams. The Gators dropped a road series to Kentucky over the weekend but rebounded with a midweek win over in-state rival Florida State and moved to 14-0 at home.  

Mike Rivera and Peter Alonso lead the RBI charge with 28 each and are fourth in the SEC in slugging percentage (.463). Rivera also leads the team in home runs with six. Buddy Reid is the man to watch on the bases. He is 12-for-13 in stolen base attempts this season and has scored 22 runs.

The Aggie pitching staff has been consistent this year, accumulating a 2.63 ERA thus far — second best in the league. On the other side, the Gators pitching staff has been a buzz saw as well, posting an SEC-best .208 opponent batting average and lead the league in strikeouts with 294.

Friday night will see a change. Usual starter sophomore Jace Vines was scratched due to illness, so freshman Tyler Ivey will get the nod to open the series. Ivey leads the team with 41 strikeouts and worked 5.2 stellar innings in his Saturday start against LSU. The Gators will send Logan Shore to the mound with a 5-0 record and a 2.89 ERA. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.

Kyle Simonds will go to work for A&M Saturday afternoon. In his last Sunday start against LSU he tossed 6.2 innings, allowing one earned run on eight hits with two strikeouts. Florida will counter with Alex Faedo, who has managed a 5-0 record and a 2.70 ERA, to start game two which begins at 6:30 p.m.

A&M coach Rob Childress has not announced a starter for Sunday yet with Vines absence. He could look to Turner Larkins, Brigham Hill or Andrew Vinson to fill the slot. Florida will start A.J. Puk, who has a 1-2 record with a 3.49 ERA.

All-time, A&M leads the series 9-2 and in their last meeting in 2014, A&M managed to take two of three from the Gators and they are 3-1 when playing in Gainesville. The final two games of the series will air on ESPNU.

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