This week’s matchups at Texas A&M and UT-Arlington will be the first time Columbia has played either school.
The Lions opened their Spring Break trip through Texas with a four-game set at UT-San Antonio. Colubmia dropped the first three games of the series, two by one run, before taking the series finale, 4-2.
TEXAS A&M’S STATUS
The Aggies dropped 2-of-3 over the weekend on the road to Auburn. The Tigers shut out Texas A&M in the opener 4-0 and then took the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, 5-2. Grayson Long threw eight shutout innings in the series finale to lead A&M to a 9-0 win.
The Mavs are in a four-game slide after being swept by Texas State over the weekend. UTA played two extra innings games last week, losing in 10 to Oklahoma midweek, before dropping Saturday’s 7-5 decision in 11 frames to Texas State.
SCOUTING THE LIONS
Columbia went 1-3 through its first four games of a nine-game road trip through the Lone Star State. Taking on UT-San Antonio, the Lions were tied 4-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth against the Roadrunners in the series opener when Mike Warren hit a walk-off single, giving the home team a 5-4 win.
After a 5-1 loss in the first of two games Saturday, Columbia rallied from a 9-3 deficit to within one run of UTSA, but the Roadrunners held on for the 9-8 victory. Columbia hurler Kevin Roy brought his A-game in the series finale on Sunday, shutting down a productive UTSA offensive with just three hits allowed and one earned run, as Columbia got two RBI from Robb Paller and another from Logan Boyher for a 4-2 win.
The two RBI on Sunday gives Paller a team-best 12 on the season. The sophomore is second on the team with 15 hits and is third with a .278 average at the dish. Boyher went on a torrid stretch in the final three games of the UTSA series, going 8-for-12 for four RBI to raise his average to .333, second best on the team. Boyher has been a versatile piece to the Lions’ lineup, splitting time at first base, catcher and designated hitter.
Lead-off hitter Jordan Serena continues to do his job, getting on base at a .448 clip, a team-high. His 18 hits, .367 batting average, 13 runs scored and five steals also pace Columbia.
Five different pitchers have earned credit for each of the Lions’ five wins this season. Starters David Speer, Joey Donino and Roy are each 1-1, with Speer posting the lowest ERA at 2.35. Reliever Zack Tax is also 1-1 with a save, leading the bullpen with a 1.69 ERA. George Thanopoulos also earned a win earlier this season at USF.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
The Aggies (14-7) began SEC play over the weekend with a three-game set at Auburn. The Tigers took the first two games of series before Texas A&M routed them in the final, 9-0. Prior to that series, A&M had won six of its last seven, posting wins against Texas Southern, Louisiana Tech and UTPA.
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park has been a friendly home-field advantage for the Aggies, going 12-2 in games played there.
Strong pitching has been a catalyst of success for A&M, as they sport a team ERA of 2.29. Starter Grayson Long is 2-0 in five starts with a miniscule 0.26 ERA. Tyler Stubblefield comes in at less than a run allowed as well, posting a 0.99 ERA and a 3-1 record in eight appearances.
A quartet of batters are hitting above .300 for A&M led by the .347 average of Patrick McLendon. Cole Lankford sports a .325 average and leads the Aggies with 25 hits.
SCOUTING THE MAVERICKS
UT-Arlington kicked off Sun Belt play over the weekend, dropping a trio of games at Texas State to fall to 5-14 on the season. Prior to hosting Columbia on Wednesday, UTA will take on No. 23 Sam Houston State at Clay Gould Ballpark Tuesday evening.
As a team, the Mavs hold a 4.15 ERA with opponents hitting at a .282 clip. UTA’s top three starters all carry ERAs over 4.70, with Brad Vachon coming in with low mark of 4.79. Relievers TJ Whidby, Chad Nack and Colin Tornberg have each done well in relief, all holding ERAs under 2.00.
Peter Cuomo is narrowly edging Matt Shortall for the team’s highest batting average. Cuomo is averaging .345, while Shortall is at .344, while also standing second on UTA with 15 RBI. Greg McCall leads the Mavs with 16 RBI and four homers.