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TCU Baseball vs UTRGV: Frogs look to continue their solid play at home

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TCU has a rare two game mid-week set against UTRGV before heading on the road for their first conference series away from home.

Jake Eissler is congratulated by Evan Skoug after earning his first career save Sunday afternoon against OSU.
Melissa Triebwasser

The Frogs played some of their best baseball of the season over the weekend, dispatching #16 Oklahoma State in three straight games, including two stunning comebacks. The Frogs relied on solid starting pitching in all three contests and the timely hitting of some of their biggest bats to earn the sweep and run their conference record to 5-1.

Now, they step away from the grind of the Big 12 to play two against UT Rio Grande Valley, a program out of the WAC that is 16-11 overall and lost their lone game against a Big 12 program when Texas handed them a 9-7 defeat.

Pitching Matchups:

Tuesday: Jake Eissler vs Zach Martinez

Wednesday: Dalton Horton vs Eddie Delgado

Freshman Jake Eissler will make his first career start for the Frogs Tuesday night, facing off against Zach Martinez, who has a 0.87 ERA in 10.1 innings, but is making his first start of the season as well. Eissler has been dynamite out of the bullpen for the Frogs this season, including pitching his way out of a two on, no out jam against Oklahoma State Sunday. He has a 3.71 ERA over 17.0 innings of work, allowing 16 hits against 17 strikeouts and issuing just three walks. He picked up his first career save Sunday and is 2-0 in seven appearances. The Frogs will have their full complement of bullpen arms available as well, which could be crucial considering he hasn’t gone more than a few innings in any appearance this year.

On the other side, sophomore Zach Martinez has never gone more than 6.0 innings in a game, and has been used sparingly so far in 2017. He has throw just 10.1 innings across eight appearances, but has been brilliant when he’s on the mound - allowing one run on two hits. He’s struggled with control though, surrendering six walks, but has ten Ks as well. If TCU can show the same patience Tuesday as they did against OSU, it could pay dividends with a short start for Martinez and getting in early to a bullpen that has had it’s ups and downs for UTRGV.

Wednesday night, the Frogs will turn to their now-normal Tuesday night arm, sending Dalton Horton to the bump against Eddie Delgado. Horton has started once, but carried the majority of innings in three previous mid-week games, taking over for the injured Mitchell Traver against UTA and coming in for the second frame after Brian Howard started against Long Beach. He has an inflated ERA of 8.00, but most of that can be traced back to his disaster of an inning against Arizona State in the first series of the year and a rough outing against Long Beach out in California where the entire team struggled. He’s been very good recently though, and will look to capitalize on his strong work against Rice and DBU. Horton has 12 strikeouts against just one walk in 12.0 innings of work. With the Frogs’ first Big 12 road trip looming, getting a solid five or six innings out of him Wednesday is huge.

Delgado has taken a winding path to the Rio Grande, starting out at Florida Memorial before matriculating to Broward College and eventually landing at UTRGV. He has made four starts this year, including a complete game, and has a 4.26 ERA, 24 Ks, 13 walks to show for it. The Frogs should be able to attack Delgado, as he allows about a hit per inning. If they can make contact, they can do some damage.

Offensive Matchups:

TCU didn’t put up a ton of runs over the weekend, but had some of their better at-bats of the year against an Oklahoma State team, that even as banged up as their staff is, is still uber talented. Austen Wade was especially lethal, earning Big 12 Player of the Week after hitting .455 with a pair of doubles, a pair of steals, and a pair of outfield assists on close plays at the plate. Joining Wade in the on fire category was Evan Skoug, who barreled up the ball better than he has in weeks, even when the ball didn’t find space. He was patient and aggressive at the same time, and was rewarded with an excellent weekend, including the continuation of his now 10 game RBI streak.

The Frogs have moved their team average up to .254 on the year, and mashed four home runs on the weekend, as Luken Baker, Nolan Brown, and Cam Warner had solo shots alongside Evan Skoug’s three run blast Friday, giving them 20 on the year. Brown is the only TCU regular to be hitting about .300, but Wade, Baker, Warner, and Josh Watson are all climbing back up that direction. The Frogs struck out 20 times over the weekend and drew 11 walks, giving them 201 and 121 respectively over the course of the season.

The Vaqueros come in batting .265 as a team, with 12 home runs and 49 doubles. They have a much better strikeout to walk ratio than the Frogs at 177-148, albeit against primarily non-P5 opponents. Two of their regular starters are hitting over .300, with Jose Garcia’s .372 averaging pacing the club. He has nine doubles, four home runs, and 19 RBI in 94 at bats this year, and has drawn 25 walks against 15 Ks. He’s also the only real threat on the base paths with 7/12 attempts being successful. Joseph Collazo leads the team with 20 runs batted in, but Garcia leads in pretty much every other category of significance. It will be important that the Frogs don’t let him do damage in run scoring situations.

One thing to watch this week for TCU is whether or not Michael Landestoy gets more PT after a solid weekend of work. Jim Schlossnagle said Landestoy was ‘close’ to earning more time after flashing the leather and smoking a ball over the wall in center for a ground rule double Sunday. Wanhanen is listed as the probably starter in the game notes, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike get more reps at DH and/or first base over the next two games.

Game Notes (via www.gofrogs.com)

TCU Notables

  • TCU remained ranked in the top 5 of all the national polls this week.
  • TCU registered its 12th Big 12 Conference sweep in program history this past weekend against OSU.
  • TCU has trailed in 17 of its 23 games and come back to win 12 times.
  • TCU went a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen bases over the weekend, giving it a league-leading 42 on the season.
  • TCU has been successful in its last 14 stolen base attempts.
  • The pitching staff lowered its ERA under 4.00 for the first time since March 5.
  • TCU has won 61 straight when leading after eight.
  • Austen Wade was named Big 12 Player of the Week after leading the Frogs with a .455 avg. against OSU.
  • Nolan Brown swiped three bases to increase his league-leading total to 10.
  • Evan Skoug has driven in a run in six straight games. He has 10 during the streak.
  • Haylen Green and Trey Morris record their first career wins and Jake Eissler notched his first career save.
  • Durbin Feltman registered two saves in the series, making him 15-for-15 in his career.

UTRGV Notables

  • UT Rio Grande Valley enters Tuesday’s contest on a four-game losing streak after getting swept by Utah Valley at home over the weekend.
  • The Vaqueros have played one Big 12 opponent this season, dropping a 9-7 decision to Texas last week.
  • Tuesday’s game will be just its fifth road game of the season. The Vaqueros are searching for their first win.
  • Jose Garcia is the offensive leader of the team with a .372 average, four home runs and seven stolen bases.
  • The Vaqueros rank fifth nationally with 148 walks on the season. Garcia’s 25 walks rank sixth nationally.
  • UTRGV boasts a 3.63 ERA this season and has registered three shutouts while holding opponents to a .237 batting average.
  • Luis Acosta leads the Vaqueros with 12 appearances out of the bullpen with five saves.
  • Defensively, UTRGV has committed just 20 errors and boasts a .980 fielding percentage.
  • UTRGV has allowed 32 stolen bases in 42 attempts this year.
  • The Vaqueros rank seventh nationally with 28 double plays turned.

Series Notables

  • TCU and UT Rio Grande Valley (formerly UT Pan American) will be meeting for the 62nd time.
  • TCU holds a 47-13-1 lead in the all-time series.
  • Since Jim Schlossnagle took over the program in 2004, TCU is 23-0 in the series.
  • TCU is 19-0 all-time against UT Rio Grande Valley at Lupton Stadium.
  • TCU topped the Vaqueros 13-0 in the only meeting last year on March 1.
  • UTRGV last defeated TCU on March 9, 2002 at Dell Diamond in the Express College Classic.