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The TCU Baseball Collective

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In addition to previewing tonight's matchup against Dallas Baptist; we also talk about the Tech series, Big 12 standings, Monday night's mediocrity, and what makes TCU so deadly on their path to Omaha...

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

TCU’s midweek games as of late can be described a lot like Buzz’s girlfriend--"woof". But this isn’t a photograph from a fantastic movie, these are really weird games which seemingly have no negative weight. The saltier matchups have gone TCU’s way; Oklahoma and Rice. The other ones; Loyola-Marymount, UT-Arlington, and Abilene Christian: TCU’s either lost or won playing some of their worst baseball. But lucky for them, DBU belongs to the former category, and if history’s shown us anything this season; the Frogs are consistent.

We talk about everything today from the Tech series, to the unsettling ACU game from Monday, as well as preview Tuesday night’s matchup against Dallas Baptist. And even though the Monday game wasn’t very pleasant: we’ll chat about what from that game and Saturday’s game in Lubbock showed why TCU’s Omaha outlook is very strong.

Tech Series Recap:

The Tech series was fairly predictable. Preston Morrison suffered his first loss of the season Friday, and I’m glad it came sooner rather than later. Morrison, who is now 6-1 on the year, doesn’t have trouble with teams like Tech per se. I mean, he beat Tech last year in Omaha: striking out 10, walking only 2, and allowing just 5 hits to a team that averaged well above that number. The problem was that he was playing in Tech’s ballpark: one that’s known for its cheekiness to pitchers; especially ground-ball pitchers like Morrison. So I’m fine with that. Fans don’t need to be worried about the lone loss to Tech, or Morrison. Sweeping the series would’ve been helpful, but it’s not crucial yet. It would’ve left the Frogs tied with Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys would’ve had the tiebreaker: so TCU would still be in second place regardless.

  • Morrison Friday statline: 4.1 IP, 7 hits, 4 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB

Mitchell Traver came back to his early season form Friday, and his ERA returned to sub-1.00--striking out 4 in the game, and allowing just 5 hits. Once again, Connor Wanhanen proved why he's one of the most exciting players on this team as he finished the game with 3 hits: the most important of them coming from a bases loaded single to break the game wide open at 6-0. Shortly followed, and equally as exciting for 2015; Evan Skoug blasted a two-run single to make it 8-0.

  • Traver Thursday statline: 6.0 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 5 SO, 0 BB

All in all, the Frogs’ Friday was dominant. Great hitting, fantastic pitching, etc. But what impressed me most this weekend was the Saturday game. Games like that are a fantastic barometer for projecting how a college team will do down the stretch and into the postseason. Alex Young was absolutely masterful that game, and his performance reminded me a lot of what he did against UCLA. He gave up an early run, but his team responded early and it was pure dominance from there. Once again, thanks to some chess-piecing from Keaton Jones to score Nolan Brown for the go-ahead run, the Frogs were able to provide Young with 2-run security--and later in the game took advantage off a Tech error to give us our final score of 4-1.

  • Young Saturday statline: 7.0 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 7 SO, 2 BB

When your Sunday, and yes he threw Saturday this series, starter is as good as Young is, and your team is doing Friday-style executions in the coda of the series: you know that this is a team built for winning post-season games; whether it be Regionals, Super Regionals, or in Omaha. There may not be a Brandon Finnegan on this team; but this team is better than they were last year and that has a lot to do with smart baserunning and much better hitting.(We’ll also talk below about a few more qualities TCU has that make them more dangerous than they were last year.)

Midweek Hiccups and "Keeping Up With Joneses":

TCU's midweek games as of late have been headaches. Most recently, Abilene Christian: a team who, hasn't won 10 games yet this year--and last week, a loss to UT Arlington. Both I still refer to as hiccups, because these midweek games against inferior talent don’t really hurt or help TCU. They lost to UTA last week, but taking 2 of 3 from a conference opponent over the weekend helped the Frogs in the polls. So the uninspiring win last night pretty much means nothing. One thing that it did show, was that TCU’s bullpen is still a great strength. Brian Trieglaff (who earned his first win of the season), Preston Guillory, and Travis Evans were all dynamite last night. And going along with what I said about Alex Young and how TCU played Sunday, the saltiness of the bullpen last night is another indication that this team is designed for success in the postseason.

Keeping Up with Joneses: In a pool of talented hitters, sought after pitchers; is anyone more valuable to this team right now than Cody Jones? And to a degree Keaton? Cody got another go-ahead, game-winning RBI Monday night, once again showing that his veins are straight ice water. Seriously, how did this kid bat sub .300 last year? The wet cement of C. Jones’ legacy is starting to dry up; but it’s one he’s nevertheless going to be very proud of. Should TCU get to Omaha, and perhaps go beyond where they did last year, and who knows; maybe even raise a trophy--Cody Jones will have had played a more integral role than anyone else.

Are you down with OBP?: Thru the Tech finale, Nolan Brown had made it to base safely in 21 straight games, and Cody Jones had made it safely to base in 20--and he extended it to 21 against ACU Monday night. That’s pretty insane when you think that’s 70% of games, and a streak that dates all the way back to late February.

DBU Preview, and is 2015 Texas the "Spirit Air" of college baseball?

To their credit and not a slight on us; Texas has bigger things to worry about than TCU. First off, and because we talk about baseball together, they need to worry about their baseball team having an offense that’s about as lively as taking an Ambien on overseas flight. For Texas fans, this season may  seem like an overseas flight sans the Ambien, sans the iPad, and sans whatever helps you get through 9-hours of misery. The intended destination (Omaha) is still more than possible for the Longhorns, however: Garrido and their offense is just making it a pain to get there. I can get to London cheaply on Spirit Air, I’d just rather pay more for flying by comfortable means.

What this is getting to, is that schools like Texas have their own problems to worry about. Schools like DBU don’t. I mean they do, but they choose not to. I talked yesterday about DBU fans calling TCU; "pseudo-Christians". This doesn’t offend me, and this as deep as I ever want to get about religion here--except for maybe Baylor talk, which again, that conversation is on the surface too. Dallas Baptist hates TCU. Hates them. Like I said above, I don’t like them--because of what happened in 2011. But had that not happened, I wouldn’t care at all about the Patriots.  Dallas Baptist is a really great team. Perhaps the most underrated squad in college baseball. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just what I see from looking at their stats.

Before we really preview this game, I just want to paraphrase Lord Westbrook and say "Do you, DBU. Do you". Build your baseball culture and don’t worry about how TCU fans carry themselves. TCU is pretty much non-secular, so when you or Sam Houston players say things like "..And they call themselves ‘Christians". We really don’t care. We want to be nice fans, but don’t pull something from our name and try and judge us for not living up to the standard of what you think a school with our "middle C" should represent.

Name

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

RHP Gavin Fritz

3-0

0.00

3.86

3.21

LHP Tyler Alexander

1-2

3.67

7.65

.26

Now, Sam Houston State and DBU rant over. Let’s talk about what a terrific baseball team this is, shall we? The Patriots dropped two of their three games over the weekend, a series in which each game was decided by 1 run. Because of that, they’ve slipped a bit in the rankings and are now as high as No.15 (Baseball America). DBU also has the No.1 RPI in the country thanks in part to TCU, but also to teams like Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

Per DBU’s website: here’s little interesting tidbit at what’s made them pretty effective thus far:

"Through the Patriots' first 29 games of 2015, DBU has outscored their opponents' in every inning.  A big reason behind DBU's 24-5 record has been the team's run production in the late innings.  From the 7th-9th innings this year, the Patriots are outscoring their opponents by a margin of 70-34.  DBU has also been dangerous with a lead in the late innings, as the Patriots hold a 20-0 record when they lead after six innings."

Tyler Alexander gets his biggest test of the year tonight, and thankfully it’s at home. Hopefully the Tuesday crowd ignites the flame they all know he possesses, so that he can shut up a feisty Dallas Baptist team. Led by Tag Duce, and yes that is a real name, the Patriots have 5 hitters in their starting lineup hitting above .300. Duce leads the team in BA (.347), but it’s Drew Turbin who’s been their most inspiring player. Third in team BA (.333), Turbin leads the team in runs (33), doubles (10), and OBP (.473). Overall, they have a really sound offense; in addition to the five hitters hitting over .300, four of them have an OBP over .400, and three with a slugging over .500. Drew Martinelli provides the power and leads the team in HRs (7), triples (3), and TB (69).

Gavin Fritz hasn’t thrown many innings, but should he challenge TCU, he’ll have a stingy bullpen to back him up. This is mainly because of DBU’s pitching stars thus far this season; Chance Adams and Brandon Koch, who have a combined ERA of .86 and struck out 62 in 42 innings of work. Fritz is holding hitters to a very respectable .159 BA, but the righty as yet to see a lineup like TCU’s.

Tuesday Prediction:

Betting on Alexander is tough right now. But, I think the TCU hitters attack early to the point where facing Brandon Koch won’t be a death sentence. The Frog bullpen also shows up huge again, and the minimal damage Alexander allows from a really good ballclub is subdued by a better team: both offensively and defensively.

TCU wins 5-2.