Rams Open 2018 Season Friday Night at #9 Texas A&M

Rams Open 2018 Season Friday Night at #9 Texas A&M

Friday, Feb. 16 – 7:30 p.m. Eastern
Coverage: Live Stats | Video | Audio

Pitching Matchup
URI - LHP Tyler Wilson
TAMU - RHP Stephen Kolek

Saturday, Feb. 17 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern
Coverage: Live Stats | Video | Audio

Pitching Matchup
URI - RHP Matt Murphy
TAMU - LHP Chandler Jozwiak

Sunday, Feb. 18 – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Coverage: Live Stats | Video | Audio

Pitching Matchup
URI - RHP Vitaly Jangols
TAMU - RHP Mitchell Kilkenny

Rams vs. Aggies

  • The opening-weekend series between Rhode Island and Texas A&M will be the first-ever games between the two clubs.
  • Texas A&M enters the weekend ranked as high as ninth in the nation's preseason polls.
  • The Aggies are ranked ninth by the NCBWA, 10th by Baseball America, 11th by both USA Today and D1Baseball and 15th by Perfect Game.
  • Texas A&M advanced to the College World Series last year, after defeating Rhody's A-10 rival Davidson twice in Super Regionals.
  • Similarly, the last time URI faced an SEC opponent, the Rams defeated Arkansas by a score of 3-0 (March 12, 2017).
  • URI also beat South Carolina, 5-4 in 2016, defeating Texas A&M's conference foes in each of the last two seasons.

Scouting Texas A&M

  • The Aggies - who went 41-23 in 2017 - were picked to finish second in the SEC's Western Division in the conference's 2018 preseason poll.
  • Shortstop Braden Shewmake was named to the All-SEC Preseason First Team while third baseman George Janca was voted to the Second Team.
  • Shewmake also collected four preseason All-America awards, landing a spot on the NCBWA First Team and D1Baseball, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game's Second Team. The sophomore infielder led the Aggies at the plate last year, hitting .328 with a team-best 69 RBI, 18 doubles, 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases.
  • On the mound, Texas A&M returns juniors Stephen Kolek and Mitchell Kilkenny, who will start Friday and Sunday, respectively. Kolek was 4-5 with a 3.79 ERA last season while Kilkenny went 3-3 and turned in a team-high seven saves. The duo combined for 138 strikeouts with just 42 walks.

Rhode Island in 2018

  • Despite losing a bulk of the offensive power from last year's 31-22 campaign, the Rams return all nine pitchers who combined to make 53 starts in 2017. Most notable will be the return of the program's most decorated pitcher, redshirt junior Tyler Wilson. A four-time Preseason All-American in 2017 - the 6-foot-4 southpaw missed the majority of the his junior year with a shoulder injury. He will return to the weekend rotation looking to pick up where he left off as the A-10's Pitcher of the Year in both 2016 and 2015.
  • Sophomore Vitaly Jangols and redshirt senior Matt Murphy are back in the weekend rotation as well. 
  • Jangols put together a freshman season similar to Wilson's in 2015, going 7-1 with two saves. His 2.23 ERA - with just 15 walks - over 60.2 innings pitched earned him respect on a national level as he was named to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America squad. 
  • Murphy ended his first year at URI as Rhody's Friday starter, going 5-4 with a 3.96 ERA in his first full season as a pitcher.
  • Seniors Tyler Barss, Dom Grillo, Nick Johnson and Taso Stathopoulos will bolster the Rams' veteran-laden staff. 
  • Already the program's career leader in saves (26), Barss posted a 1.38 ERA over 24 relief appearances last season. 
  • Grillo emerged as one of the most consistent arms out of the bullpen, holding opponents to a .183 average over 27.0 innings of relief work. He finished his junior campaign 3-1 with one save and 27 strike outs opposite just seven walks. 
  • Johnson - who saw time as both a starter and reliever - led the team in strikeouts (61) and was second in innings pitched (62.2). He finished with a 3-3 record and one save. 
  • Stathopoulos missed the first half of the season with an injury, but returned as a starter and went 2-2 with a team-best .165 opposing average over 24.1 innings.
  • The Rams will undoubtedly miss the power-hitting quartet of Mike Corin, Martin Figueroa, Chris Hess and Matt O'Neil, which combined for 42 of the team's 51 home runs last season. Senior center fielder Jordan Powell - a career .336 hitter - will be called on to lead the Rhody offense, alongside sophomore catcher Sonny Ulliana, whose time behind the plate was limited due to injury a year ago. 
  • Senior Mike Foley and juniors Kevin Heiss, Laurence Hill and Brett McManus will also add a veteran presence in the field and at the plate.

Rhode Warriors

  • Rhode Island's first 18 games of the 2018 season will be played on the road.
  • The Rams will travel more than 14,000 miles - 13,000+ by plane and 1,000+ by bus - before playing their first home game.
  • URI's home opener is set for Tuesday, March 20 when Sacred Heart visits Bill Beck Field for a midweek matchup.
  • Rhody will then hit the road for its Atlantic 10-opening series at VCU. 
  • The Rams will play 21 games outside of Rhode Island before hosting their first conference series (Davidson, March 30-April 1).

Rams vs. The Nation's Best

  • Rhode Island has become known for its challenging non-conference schedules, travelling early each year to take on some of the nation's best competition. 
  • In 2017, URI traveled to NC State for a single game against the sixth-ranked Wolfpack. The Rams left Raleigh with a 5-2 victory.
  • In 2016, Rhody opened up with a series at #14 Florida State before traveling to Maryland for a three-game set against the Terrapins, who were coming off back-to-back NCAA Super Regional appearances.
  • In 2015, the Rams opened with a series at #2 Florida before traveling to #11 North Carolina, and taking Game 3 from the Tar Heels (6-3).
  • In 2013, Rhode Island was the only team in the country to open the season with eight consecutive road games against top-10 teams. URI played three at #9 Florida State, three at #8 Ole Miss and two at #5 Mississippi State. 
  • In 2012, the Rams traveled to Tallahassee to take on the top-ranked Seminoles, marking the third year in a row that they faced the #1 team in the country (Florida-2011, Virginia-2010).
  • In 2011, Rhody traveled to Founders Park to play defending national champion South Carolina. The Gamecocks went on to win the national title that year as well.