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Shriners College Classic Game Thread: TCU vs. LSU

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The Horned Frogs take on No. 4 LSU on Friday night in Houston.

Melissa Triebwasser

Date: Friday, March 3 | Time: 7:00 p.m. CST | TV: FS2/FSN | Location: Minute Maid Park

The biggest weekend of TCU baseball to date this season has arrived, and the No. 1 Horned Frogs will take on No. 4 LSU this evening at Minute Maid Park, in Houston, Texas.

The 7-1 Frogs are on a three game winning streak, after taking their only loss of the season to Arizona State a week ago. Meanwhile, LSU, 8-1 and ranked as high as No. 2 in the polls, enters on a five game winning streak of their own, dating back to a February 22nd win over Hofstra.

The game comes in the midst of the Shriners Hospital College Classic, hosted every season at the home of the Houston Astros. It’ll be TCU’s biggest test of the season, as they face LSU, as well as No. 10 Ole Miss, and No. 15 Texas A&M.

Pitching Preview

RHP Brian Howard (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Lange (2-0, 0.82)

Brian Howard takes the bump for TCU on Friday, looking to rebound from taking his first loss of the season last week. He goes against junior Alex Lange, who has been dominant in his first two outings this season, striking out 18 in his 11 innings pitched.

Lange’s outings, though, have come against Army and Maryland, teams that are a combined 3-10 on the season, so it’ll be interesting to see him go up against a lineup as stout as TCU’s.

Howard has faced Penn State and Arizona State, both of whom have better lineups than either of Lange’s opponents, but he too has yet to face a lineup like LSU’s this season.

Both pitchers have the ability to shut down strong lineups, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen for at least one of them tonight.

Offensive Preview

Howard and Lange could very well become a pitcher’s duel, despite both lineups being insanely loaded. That being said, there are several guys in both dugouts who are capable of ending a pitcher’s night early.

TCU continues to be led by Nolan Brown, who is now batting .400 on the season and appears to be making up for the season he lost last year due to injury. Luken Baker is creeping up on him, though, having increased his batting average to .346 over the weekend and the Rice game. Baker now sits with a team-leading .692 slugging percentage, and a team-leading 3 home runs.

Austen Wade has also had a hot bat over the past several games, as he’s seen his average rise to .323. Wade also leads the team with six stolen bases in seven attempts, and together with Brown, they terrorize opposing pitchers and catchers once they reach base.

Evan Skoug’s prolonged hitting slump is starting to have Frog fans worried, but whenever he breaks out of it (it’s just a matter of time), this lineup becomes even more deadly than it already is, averaging 8.6 runs per game.

For LSU, five players who have started all nine games are currently hitting above .300, with Cole Freeman leading the way hitting .500 to begin the year. Kramer Robinson and Jake Slaughter are both hitting above .400, and slugger Greg Deichman has already hit four dingers this season.

The Tigers are averaging 8.1 runs per game, so if Howard is shaky early, LSU absolutely has the talent to run him and get to the bullpen.

#MashForMicah

The Frogs hit two more home runs against Rice on Tuesday, bringing the #mashformicah total to more than $8,000 through the first eight games. We’ll have another updated number once this weekend series is completed.