State of the Ace: Prager, A&M Rotation Continue to Dominate

Texas A&M’s Ryan Prager was lights out again while Kansas State’s Jacob Frost was part of a combined no-hitter.

ryan prager

Welcome to State of the Ace, a Saturday morning look at the best performances by Friday starters throughout the country.

In 2023, Texas A&M starting pitchers posted a 5.95 ERA. That was, of course, without Ryan Prager. The southpaw had underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the year recovering.

His return has been nothing short of dominant.

The redshirt sophomore ran his scoreless innings streak to 23-plus to start the 2024 season on Friday night, spinning seven scoreless innings against Rhode Island with a career-high 13 strikeouts. Prager allowed just one hit and didn’t issue a free pass as he continued his fantastic start to the year.

Through four starts, Prager has allowed just nine hits (in 23 2/3 innings) while striking out 40 and walking just three. The Aggies are outscoring their opponents by a gaudy 47-2 margin with him on the mound.

Prager’s scoreless streak mirrors the whole staff’s remarkable run to open the campaign: Texas A&M leads the nation in ERA (1.50), rotation ERA (0.59), and are sixth in bullpen ERA (2.45). The roster has the likes of Justin Lamkin (12.2 IP, 0.71 ERA), Evan Ashenbeck (15.2 IP, 1.15 ERA), Chris Cortez (12.2 IP, 1.42 ERA), and Shade Sdao (10 IP, 0.00 ERA).

Let’s look at some of the other top pitching performances from Friday:

Jacob Frost (Kansas St.) vs. Cincinnati — W, 7 IP, 2 BB, 4 K

It was a historic night in Manhattan as Frost teamed up with Jackson Whitworth for a combined no-hitter of Cincinnati. Frost worked around some trouble in the first two frames — two walks, a hit batter, and an error — before settling in and retiring 17 straight. Frost has rebounded nicely in his last two starts after a tough outing against Holy Cross.

Jake Babuschak (Sacred Heart) vs. FDU – W, 9 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K

It was a good day at the ballpark for Pioneer pitchers as they spun a pair of shutouts in a sweep. Babuschak starred in the first game as he turned in his first career shutout. The senior right-hander allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out four.

Caden Favors (Wichita St.) vs. Long Beach St. – W, 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 10 K

Another week, another gem from Favors. Wichita State’s ace has a 1.59 ERA across 28 innings and four starts to open the year. His most recent effort saw 10 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings, scattering two hits and two walks against the Dirtbags.

Noah Beal (Fresno St.) vs. UC Irvine – W, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 12 K

Fresno State handed No. 23 UC Irvine its first loss of the season with an emphatic 13-1 rout — aided by a fantastic start from Beal. The UNLV transfer righthander went seven strong, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 12.

Luke Holman (LSU) vs. Xavier — W, 6 IP, 2 BB, 10 K

Like Prager, Holman is turning in dominant efforts on a weekly basis. The Alabama transfer didn’t allow a hit over six scoreless against Xavier, walking two and striking out 10. Last week, he was the highlighted pitcher after fanning 12 against Texas, while the week prior he struck out eight over seven scoreless against NIU. Holman hasn’t allowed a run in 24 innings to start the year.

Ryan Johnson (DBU) vs. San Diego — W, 7 IP, 5 H, BB, 8 K

After 27 strikeouts in his previous two starts against Central Michigan and Arizona, Johnson turned in another strong effort against San Diego. He went seven scoreless, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Johnson has quality starts in three of four games after a shaky Opening Day appearance.

Here’s a look at the top 20 performances from Friday, by Game Score (this list may be updated pending stat syncs.) For more pitching data, check out our weekend rotation and team stat pages.

Top Game Scores (Friday, March 1)
PlayerTeamOppDecIPHRERBBSOGame Score
Ryan PragerTexas A&MRhode IslandW7.010001389
Jake BabuschakSacred Heart@ FDUW9.03001487
Caden FavorsWichita St.Long Beach St.W7.020021083
Noah BealFresno St.UC IrvineW7.031101282
Max SimpsonTowsonYaleW7.02002881
Jack BennettWestern Ky.MilwaukeeW7.04001880
Luke HolmanLSUXavierW6.000021080
Jacob FrostKansas St.CincinnatiW7.00002479
Ryan JohnsonDBUSan DiegoW7.05001879
Brett RenfrowVirginia TechNotre DameW8.033211078
Matt ScottStanford@ WashingtonW7.03112977
Justin MitrovichElonMassachusettsW6.030031076
Dominic PietoLIULe MoyneW7.04112976
Braden OsboltKennesaw St.@ KentuckyW7.06110875
Reese DuttonKansasTCUW7.04112875
Gus HughesHigh PointRutgersW8.04222674
Derek ClarkWest VirginiaBYUW5.01000773
AJ CauseyTennesseeIllinoisW6.061111273
Gabe DriscollBinghamton@ VMIW7.05110573
Eddie SminkStony BrookSienaND6.142111273