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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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Throwin’ out the Tigers

No. 4 Aggie baseball to play Auburn in next bout of SEC play
Photo by CJ Smith
Junior RHP Brad Rudis (32) starts to throw the ball during A&M’s games against Houston Christian University on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Coming off of a 2-1 series win against No. 21 Mississippi State, No. 4 Texas A&M baseball continues its homestand with a weekend series against Auburn, March 28-30.

Second in the country with a 2.85 ERA, the Aggie pitching staff has remained consistent after letting up an average of three runs in its last four games.

Sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin’s recent performance may be a sign of things tightening up. Lamkin was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Bulldogs. His 7.1 innings were also a career high, and if he can continue pitching deep into games, the Maroon and White should have a certified ace on their hands.

Lamkin is part of the Aggies’ one-two punch with the other headliner being redshirt sophomore Ryan Prager. Prager is at the top of the A&M leaderboard with 49 strikeouts and a 0.74 WHIP, showcasing his electric stuff and blocking opponents from getting on base. The Maroon and White should continue relying on the southpaw duo combined with stints from an exceptional bullpen.

Junior RF Braden Montgomery has been outstanding in conference play, hitting four home runs in six games to tie sophomore CF Jace LaViolette’s team lead of 12 home runs. Not just an all-or-nothing hitter, Montgomery currently has more walks than strikeouts with 24 and 18, respectively. Also leading the team with a .846 slugging percentage, teams are afraid of Montgomery’s power, with Mississippi State opting to intentionally walk him rather than face him at the plate.

Montgomery hasn’t been at it alone; his slugging partner, freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac, also hit four home runs in six SEC games. Combined with his great glove in the hot corner, Grahovac has been playing beyond his years both on the plate and in the field.

Leading the team from behind the plate, senior C Jackson Appel has been raking with the bat as well. Second on the team with a .373 batting average, Appel has been allergic to strikeouts with a strikeout ratio of 17 to five. Those free bases are a big reason why he currently leads the team with a .543 on-base percentage.

The Tigers have been floundering in conference play, securing a record of 1-5. Junior RHP Chase Allsup is their No. 1 guy when it comes to innings pitched with 28.2, but he’s been lit up to the tune of a 6.59 ERA. Auburn’s other ace, junior RHP Conner McBride, has fared much better with a 2.38 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Auburn likes to go deep into its bullpen, so prepare for junior RHP Parker Carlson and junior John Armstrong to filter in and out during the game.

On offense, Auburn is led by the duo of senior LF Mason Maners and redshirt junior 1B Cooper McMurray. Maners is a top-tier contact hitter with a team-leading .364 batting average. A lightning quick player, Maners has the ability to beat out grounders, and A&M should be prepared to get the ball quickly to first base.

McMurray is the power counterpart, with a team-leading 1.318 OPS and 10 home runs. An all-around offensive threat, McMurray’s .505 OBP is the best in the starting lineup. Offensive output drops off in the back half of the lineup, so if the Aggie pictures get through the top, it should be smooth sailing from there.

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About the Contributor
Eric Liu
Eric Liu, Sports Writer
Eric is a sophomore computer science major from Houston, TX. He is also double minoring in English and statistics. While at The Battalion, Eric has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, tennis, swim & dive and equestrian.
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