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TCU Baseball 2016: Houston Preview and Open Thread

Luken Baker, Elliott Barzilli, and Dane Steinhagen blasted, and run-ruled Rice on Saturday–Can they get out of Houston unscathed against the Cougars today?

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

TCU just continues to dominate the early part of the 2016 season: Luken Baker is as good as advertised, Elliott Barzilli is hitting over .700, and the pitching–starting and bullpen–is thriving under Kirk Saarloos' tutelage. After crushing Louisiana-Lafayette Friday night, the Frogs run-ruled the Rice Owls Saturday night at Minute Maid 10-0.

What should we expect for Sunday? Well, after Brian Howard and Luken Baker did their part, it's now up to Rex Hill to close out a perfect weekend. Hill, the only lefty in TCU's starting arsenal, will get a Houston team that was nearly run-ruled by Arkansas in a game that pushed back the TCU-Rice game by an hour. Hill, who gave up 3 earned runs in his first start, looks to shave off his +6.00 ERA Sunday afternoon against a Cougar team, that despite what Saturday's score indicates, is still capable of scoring a lot of runs.





Mitch Ullom, RHP





Rex Hill, LHP





However, should Hill allow more runs than either Baker or Howard did this weekend, the good news is this: THIS TEAM CAN RAKE. And not only that, they're cashing in on opportunities. No matter how Hill does–and mind you, I expect him to bounce back–the offense, from what this weekend has taught us, should provide enough firepower to lift TCU over Houston in today's coda.

Look for Elliott Barzilli, who had 3 RBIs and 2 Rs yesterday, to continue his hot-streak. Also, I'm expecting Dane Steinhagen and Connor Wanhanen to have big days as well. Steinhagen had absolutely brilliant ABs in Saturday's game; the one that comes to mind was his early inning AB, where he fouled off numerous pitches to stay alive then drilled one off the RF wall. Wanhanen also had some brilliant ABs himself against the Owls, most notably squeezing out a Pete Rose-style hit to drive in a run.

More than anything, and we talked about it above, the Frogs are (a) capitalizing off of runs and they're doing it because (b) there's simply just more power on this team in 2016. Last year, 9 hits may've meant that the Frogs scored 3 or 4 runs, as they were notorious for leaving runners on base. In 2016, there's no such thing thus far and 9 hits means they're going to drop 10 runs. Getting out of Houston without a loss and being able to dominate ULL-Rice-Houston in succession will be a very promising beginning for this young team and perhaps even lift them into the Top 10 in the polls.

Prediction, TCU 8, Houston 4