TCU fought their way back from a 2-0 deficit for the second time in two games on Tuesday night to defeat UT Arlington 7-2 on the road. That victory pushed the Frogs’ record to 4-0, retaining their No. 1 ranking. This weekend they will be put to the test again as they host the Arizona State Sun Devils, one of the most storied programs in all of college baseball.
Arizona State has been to the College World Series 22 times and come away with five national championships, which puts them in the top 5 nationally in both categories. TCU last faced the Sun Devils in the championship game of last year’s Fort Worth regional, a game which the Frogs won 8-1.
This Arizona State team opened up their season last weekend with a home sweep of Northwestern, but dropped their Tuesday home game to Oklahoma State (2-2) by a score of 18-4 as the Sun Devils let up 22 hits to the Cowboys and allowed 12 runs to be scored in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings alone.
Friday: Brian Howard (RHP) vs. Eli Lingos (LHP)
Saturday: Nick Lodolo (LHP) vs. Ryan Hingst (RHP)
Sunday: Jared Janczak (RHP) vs. Spencer Van Scoyoc (LHP)
The Frogs made some changes from last week’s starting rotation, moving Howard and Lodolo back a day and switching Janczak from Friday to Sunday, but the personnel remains the same. Howard, a senior who went six innings allowing only three hits and one earned run against Penn State last Saturday, will face junior Eli Lingos. Lingos was the Saturday starter for the Sun Devils last weekend, but had by far the most success of their starting rotation on opening weekend throwing a shutout for 6 2⁄3 innings on the way to a win.
Freshman Nick Lodolo will take the mound for the Frogs on Saturday after a strong showing in his first career start Sunday. In that game he gave up a two-run homer in the first inning, but did not allow another run over the next four innings to earn his first quality start and win. Lodolo will face sophomore Ryan Hingst who went four innings in the second game of a double-header last Saturday, giving up three earned runs on one hit and walking three. He left the game with ASU down 3-0, but a couple of one run innings and two runs in the ninth bailed out the Sun Devils for a 4-3 win.
Janczak, a sophomore, went six innings on opening night last Friday allowing three runs on two hits. He threw just 61 pitches through the first six innings, but got into some trouble in the seventh and was responsible for the three runs given up by reliever Sean Wymer. Freshman Spencer Van Scoyoc went just 2 1⁄3 innings in his start for the Sun Devils last Saturday, but strong pitching from Todd Reagan and Ryan James out of the bullpen and a four-run 8th from the offense led ASU to a win.
Redshirt senior Nolan Brown is still red-hot, leading the Big 12 with a .583 batting average and he has recorded a hit in all four games. He’s also leads the Frogs in runs (7), RBIs (5) and extra base hits (2), and is second in stolen bases with three. Cam Warner is right behind him with a .400 batting average, seven runs, four RBIs and a home run.
Luken Baker was batting over .300 with six runs and a home run after the Penn State series, but an 0 for 4 day against UT Arlington on Tuesday dropped his average to .250. Also worth mentioning is that Evan Skoug recorded a go-ahead two-run homer on Tuesday to break a 1-15 stretch with 11 strikeouts to start the year. Hopefully that indicates that he is rounding back into form.
Arizona State has outhit the Frogs so far on the year with a team batting average of .288 compared to .256 for TCU. They also recorded back-to-back come from behind victories in the eighth and ninth innings of a double-header last Saturday. Their offense is driven by catcher Lyle Lin, who leads the team with seven hits, two doubles, three RBIs and a .467 batting average. Lin is the only every day player batting over .300 for the Sun Devils, but sophomore infielder Jeremy McCuin (.235 BA) has had the timely hits to lead the team with four RBIs. He also has demonstrated some power with a double and a single so far on the year.
This weekend’s games will be at 6:30pm Friday, 4:00pm Saturday and 1:00pm Sunday. The Friday game will be available on FrogVision and the Sunday game will be televised on FSSW+.