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TCU Baseball: Oklahoma Preview

After a brutal, soul crushing series loss to Oklahoma State; Tyler Alexander and TCU both have a lot to prove in Tuesday night's showdown against Oklahoma...

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight is by far Tyler Alexander’s most important start of the season, and until the postseason, it’ll remain that way. Not only is Alexander looking to get his groove back, but for the first time this season, so is his team. The Frogs lost their first series of the year this weekend: must frustratingly (for TCU fans) dropping the key Sunday game thanks to some pretty appalling defense.

Maybe the midweek series caught up to them, but the TCU team we saw this past weekend--in pieces Friday, not so much Saturday, but definitely on Sunday--was very much out of synch with what they’ve shown so far. It was so weird in fact, that of the monstrous 18 runs OSU put up over the weekend, 13--THIRFREAKINGTEEN--were scored with 2 outs.

PS, sorry it’s a little later than normal. I’ve been setting up a new internet all day. But back to normal next Tuesday.

The Matchup

Pitcher

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Tyler Alexander

1-1

3.43

8.47

0.00

Jeffrey Curan

0-0

2.35

7.04

1.96

At the very least, the lefty vs. lefty matchup should be an intriguing one. We’ve been charting Alexander pretty carefully since the Arizona State series and been asking when and where he’ll return to the form he was in from about late-April through the Regionals last year. While he’s improved in every appearance since the game in Tempe, tonight he can really get his confidence up against a very eager Oklahoma squad who just took a series from Texas Tech.

Foremost, Alexander will have to deal with Craig Aikin and Kolbey Carpenter, both of whom are in the Top-10 in the Big 12 in batting average--and both are hitting .352. But Carpenter will be the hardest for Alexander to maintain--Carpenter is also a threat on the basepath (7 stolen bases) and has also contributed 5 of the Sooners’ Big 12 leading, 23 homeruns.

Hitting wise, despite Sunday’s 2 runs, I’m still not worried about this team’s offense. Statistically and spiritually, it feels better than last year--so I’m not going to knock them for only putting up 2 runs against a really good Oklahoma State team that had a really compelling performance on the mound. That being said, rebounding won’t be easy, even for this team. Oklahoma has a team ERA of 2.75 and the staff is holding their opponents to a .231 batting average and also lead the Big 12 in strikeouts.

However,  TCU's big four on offense; Cody Jones, Nolan Brown, Keaton Jones, and Connor Wanhanen (plus Skoug for power) make this team deadly 1-9, at any point in the game. My dream now is to see Wanhanen and Brown in the lineup together more often. Wanny is having an unbelievable year: and if you compare his stats to Keaton Jones--who's hitting just a hair under .300, has 11 runs, 23 hits, and 13 RBIs--he virtually has all the same stats (.380 BA, 11 runs, 19 hits and 13 RBIs). And, he has them despite 17 fewer at-bats and only starting in 13 of TCU's 21 games (and appearing in 14 of them). This is not a slight on Keaton at all. We all know how well Keaton is doing, but it's more about trying to emphasize how much better this offense is with Nolan Brown and Wanhanen in the lineup together.

Prediction

Both teams are looking for something to prove. Which is kind of dumb to say, because that could be said about any game, any time. But, with the Big 12 baseball's season really starting to get hot, and early enough to still be completely wide open, it is fair to say that there’s a lot on the line tonight. The Sooners are looking to prove that their series win against a Top 10 opponent wasn’t a fluke and that they’re a real contender in this league. And for TCU, they’re stricken with the reality of having to take a step back and (1) shift the focus to just winning ballgames, and (2) forget about losing their No.1 team in the country title. And by doing those things; winning this league and earning another trip to Omaha will fall into place easier.

With a couple of days to collect themselves, I think the Frogs bounce back and win this one 5-3. And for the Tuesday night crowd, this one will have a little more offense.