Preview: The Love Of Baseball Returns to College Station
COLLEGE STATION — As love fills the air on Valentine's Day, the love of the game returns to College Station — and it's their time to make history. Baseball is back, and Texas A&M is ready to add another banner at Olsen Field in Blue Bell Park.
That mission begins Friday evening against the Miami Ohio Redhawks. The Aggies will open the 2020 season with a three-game series at home, eager to pick up the pieces and build off the prior season.
The Aggies will rely on the pitching staff to carry the way this season. The Redhawks will be the first victim to get a taste of A&M's secret weapon in Asa Lacy. The junior southpaw played second fiddle last season to the team's top starter in John Doxakis, a second-round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019.
Stepping into the role as the team's ace, Lacy will have a chance to prove his worth to professional scout. On his roster, the scouting report is simple — future selection in the MLB Draft.
“He’s going to be a top pick in the (draft) and deservingly so,” A&M infielder Bryce Blaum said. “To have him on our team throwing 97 miles per hour from the left side? Good luck, everybody else.”
Lacy was named to the preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list thanks to his efforts from 2019. The left-handed finished with an 8-4 record as the team's No.2 starter and is one of 11 Aggies all-time to be named to the watch list.
The Aggies will look to return to the College World Series for the first time since 2017 under 15-year manager Rob Childress. A two-time CWS representative, Childress has relied on pitching to carry the way to Omaha. That could be the case in 2019 with Lacy, right-hander Christian Roa and left-handed Chandler Jozwiak as the team's starting rotation.
After eliminating host West Virginia in the NCAA Morgantown Regional last year, A&M would drop a pair to Duke and head back to College Station. The team would end 2019 with a 39-23-1 record, advancing to the NCAA Championship for a school-record 13th consecutive season.
The Aggies bats will hopefully strike the competition this season with the addition of a new hitting coach. With the departure of Will Bolt to the Cornhuskers in Nebraska, Childress added Chad Calliet of Southern Mississippi as the team's latest addition to the staff.
“Coach Caillet wants our guys to play incredibly fast,” Childress said. “We’re going to force the issue on the bases and force the issue with small-ball hitting and running. We’ve got to have some guys in the middle of the lineup who can challenge the fences and some guys in the front and back of the lineup who can create some offense.”
The Aggies have fared well on opening day in recent memory. All-time, the team 81-31-5 all-time on opening day. Under Childress, A&M is 13-1 in opening day appearances.
The Aggies will meet the Redhawks for the third time in school history, holding a 2-0 advantage all-time. The teams first met in 1979 and most recently met in 1992 with A&M pulling off a 3-2 win.
The Aggies will follow their three-game series with matchups against Stephen F. Austin and Prairie View A&M before host a three-game series against Army. First pitch Friday is expected to take place at 6:30 p.m. while the game will be televised on SEC Network plus.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #35 Asa Lacy (Jr., LHP, 8-4, 2.13 ERA) vs. #18 Sam Bachman (So., RHP, 7-1, 3.93 ERA)
• SATURDAY: #23 Christian Roa (Jr., RHP, 3-2, 3.56 ERA) vs. #19 Tyler Bosma (So. LHP, 2-1, 5.54 ERA)
• SUNDAY: #18 Chandler Jozwiak (Jr., LHP, 4-5, 4.76 ERA) vs. TBA