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TCU Baseball 2016: Saturday Kansas Preview-Reprisal

After losing their second straight one-run game on Friday night, the Frogs are looking to get back on track against a Kansas team that sits near the bottom of the big 12 standings.

Skoug leads the Frogs with his energy, leadership and monster cuts
Skoug leads the Frogs with his energy, leadership and monster cuts

In war time, a reprisal is a term used to refer to retaliation against an enemy for injuries received. An eye for an eye, if you will. That's what TCU will be trying to do today. Losing yesterday's game was a real gut-punch to the Frogs' hopes of winning a second consecutive Big 12 regular season title. TCU fell to 22-7 on the year and 4-3 in Big 12 play with the loss. That puts the Frogs in a three-way tie with OSU and Texas for second place, but they are all well behind first place Texas Tech who sit at 9-1. Tech has had a pretty easy schedule early on taking two of three from Baylor and sweeping OU and Kansas State. Still, its impressive to go 8-1 against anybody and the Red Raiders just won their series opener against OSU on the road last night in Stillwater.

Even though the Frogs get Texas Tech in Fort Worth this year, they can't afford to keep playing this poorly on the road. They are 3-0 in Big 12 play at home, and only 1-3 when they have to play away from Lupton Stadium. In their next three conference series they get to play OU and Texas Tech at home, but sandwiched in between those is a trip to Stillwater for what could be their toughest conference series of the year. With all that left to face this month, the Frogs need to take the next two games in Lawrence to avoid another Big 12 series loss.

TCU outhit Kansas last night, but Janczak allowed two runs in the eighth that propelled Kansas to the win. Baker pitched one of his better outings of the season as he went 5 1/3, giving up five hits and two runs while striking out six and walking two. He gave up a lead off homer, but only allowed the one extra run after that. Janczak went two innings with three hits and two runs while striking out three with one walk. That walk was a big one. Janczak issued it to open up the eighth inning and followed that by giving up a single. Then, an error by Wanhanen at first allowed the tying run to score. The winning run followed soon in that inning on an RBI fly out once Feltman had come on to relieve Janczak. The bats had a tough time against Kansas' ace Krauth, but their efforts were highlighted by Skoug's fourth homer of the year in the first inning.

Saturday Pitching Preview

Starting Pitcher W-L IP ERA H/9 K/9 BB/9
Brian Howard - RHP 4-1 41.1 3.27 7.4 8.7 3.1
Blake Weiman - LHP 1-2 33.1 3.24 8.6 5.9 2.4

We'll look to Howard again today in the hopes that he returns to his usual form and puts together a strong performance when the Frogs really need it. His last outing was his shortest start of the season and he lasted only three innings, giving up five runs off six hits. The offense ultimately bailed him out, but he took a no-decision after leaving the game with TCU trailing 6-2. The week before that though, against Texas, he threw a five hit, two run complete game. The latter of these two examples is more indicative of what kind of pitcher he has been this season.

The other reason that we need a strong game from Howard is that Kansas will likely go with a pretty decent lefty on the mound today. Lefty pitchers have seemed to be the kryptonite for TCU's lineups the last few years, so this seems like a no-brainer decision for Kansas to stick with Blake Weiman. This year's lineup is a little bit better against them than last years, but lefty pitchers still make me a little nervous. That goes double with a conference series on the line.

Offensive Preview

Offensive Comparison avg r h hr slg% ob% fld%
TCU 0.311 236 312 25 0.487 0.408 0.974
Kansas 0.271 146 253 8 0.374 0.374 0.965

Last night Kansas moved their lineup around a little bit to put a couple of senior leaders, Joe Moroney and Ryan Pidhaichuck, in the leadoff part of the order. That worked out perfectly for them in the first inning when Moroney hit a lead off home run against Luken Baker. Like I said earlier, Kansas got outhit by TCU last night despite being able to come away with the victory. TCU just wasn't able to capitalize on their many opportunities as Kansas seemed to come through with big-time strike outs every time they really needed it, forcing the Frogs to leave a total of 13 men on base in the game. The biggest night for the Jayhawks came from Devin Foyle, who went 3-4 with two runs scored.

Evan Skoug is in the middle of a 14 game hit streak for TCU and he's not showing any signs of slowing down. Every swing he takes lately looks like it has the power to knock a hole through a brick wall. His solo home run last night was his fourth of the season and he almost had a second in the later innings (for the second game in a row) which would have tied up a game that we ultimately lost. Cam Warner has stretched his hitting streak to 18 games now and the Aussie had his ninth multi-hit game of the year last night. Barzilli has a 14 game hitting streak of his own, and continues to lead the team in just about everything offensive except for home runs, where he's second. Luken Baker also had a big night last night going 2-4 with an RBI.

The loss last night wasn't really a case of the offense completely going silent like it did against UT Arlington Wednesday night or a couple of weeks ago against Texas. It was more that they just couldn't get a big hit when they had the chance. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning and only scored one run, on a hit batter. In the later innings Janczak's rare lead off walk became a problem because of an error. I'm not going to say that TCU gave the game away because Kansas pitched well and played really good defense, but we definitely left a lot on the table. Today they need to flip the scrip on Kansas and clean their plates.