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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Showdown on Family Weekend

Junior+Mikey+Hoehner+is+batting+.308+this+season+and+has+hit+three+home+runs.
Photo by Megan Cusick

Junior Mikey Hoehner is batting .308 this season and has hit three home runs.

After losing three of its last four games, No. 10 Texas A&M is looking to solve its latest issues at home against Auburn this weekend.
The Aggies (25-9-1, 7-4-1 SEC) sit a half-game ahead of the Tigers (23-10, 7-5 SEC), who are also in a slump, having lost eight of their last 11 following a 15-game winning streak. Auburn was ranked as high as No. 15 just two weeks ago.
“We need to bottom line play better, and the scoreboard will take care of itself; I feel like Auburn feels that way as well,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “It’s a very big weekend. They all are in SEC play. The end of this weekend will mark the first half of a 10-week challenge, and we’d sure like to finish that in a strong manner and take care of business at home.”
Friday night will be personal for starting pitcher John Doxakis. His counterpart, Tanner Burns, was his roommate last summer when the two played on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
“We talk on the phone every week,” Doxakis said. “We’ve had this one on the calendar since summer ball ended. I know a lot about him. We’re really good friends.”
Burns (4-0, 1.76 ERA) is one of the SEC’s top pitchers, with his 69 strikeouts ranking No. 13 nationally.
“It’s definitely an even playing field on what we’re going to be telling the hitters,” Doxakis said. “He’s a great pitcher — power fastball with two off-speeds he can land for a strike. That’s why he’s one of the best in the country. It’ll be fun to go against him after being his teammate.”
Burns could have another solid outing too, given A&M’s recent struggles at the plate. A&M has found ways to get base runners, but has struggled to drive them home. During the Aggies’ latest rough patch, they’ve gone 10-for-39 (.256) with runners in scoring position.
“Those opportunities don’t come along often when you’ve got a moment to get a big hit or move the base runners in scoring position,” Childress said. “We’ve got to be better at that. We haven’t been great at that over the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, we were outstanding. And those moments become fewer and far between on weekends when you’re playing SEC competition.”
Meanwhile, the relief pitching found its way Tuesday against Texas State, tossing 8.2 scoreless innings after key relievers struggled in critical spots over the past week, which Childress said rebuilt some confidence ahead of this weekend. Still, Doxakis said it’s imperative that the Aggies get the bats and the pitching clicking at the same time.
“We’ve just got to start putting the pieces together,” Doxakis said. “Pitching will do good one night, hitting not that good and then it flip-flops. Once we put it together, it’ll be hard to beat us.”
The Aggies were without third baseman Ty Coleman on Tuesday and had outfielder Cam Blake pinch-hit, as both were dealing with minor injuries, but Childress said he expects both back at full strength this weekend. Furthermore, Childress said the Sunday starting pitching position would remain open for the third straight weekend.
Nonetheless, the Aggies are looking to stay level-headed amid a low spot.
“I think we’re just trying to stay confident,” utility player Jonathan Ducoff said. “We know our team has a lot of talent. We care about each other, and we play hard. We’ve got big goals for what this year’s going to be.”
With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday, Childress said his staff is monitoring the weather with the help of KBTX meteorologist Shel Winkley. Childress said he believes the Aggies will be able to get the game in with no issues.
A&M and Auburn will begin the three-game series Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will have a 4 p.m. first pitch, and the series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be aired on SEC Network+.

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