Probably the only bowl game that TCU fans remember better than the Alamo (Bowl) in recent years is the Peach Bowl win over Ole Miss after the 2014 football season. For many TCU fans that is their only memory of facing the Rebels, but not for baseball fans. TCU and Ole Miss have recent history on the diamond. The two teams have faced off 17 times and Ole Miss holds a 9-8 all time advantage over the Horned Frogs.
The last time the Frogs faced the Rebels they got eliminated from the 2014 College World Series, but by the time that game was played the two teams already knew each other well. TCU took a road trip to Oxford to kick off the 2012 season and split a two game series. That same year, in the College Station Regional, Ole Miss sent TCU to the loser’s bracket in the first game, but the Frogs fought their way all the way back to the championship and beat Ole Miss twice to win the tournament and advance to the Super Regional against UCLA. Then, Ole Miss came to Lupton to open the 2013 season and go their revenge by sweeping the Frogs on the road.
History aside, the Ole Miss team has been impressive this year. They opened the season with an eight game home stand, during which they swept No. 6 East Carolina and No. 23 UNC Wilmington on their way to a 7-1 record. Their first loss of the season came on Tuesday against Memphis. This weekend will be their first time playing away from home, but after a start like that its impossible not to look at them as a contender this weekend, and this year in the SEC.
TCU - Jared Janczak, R-So., RHP, 2-0, 2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP
Ole Miss - Brady Feigl, R-So., RHP, 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 10.0 IP
Janczak is expected to stay in the Sunday role for now after an outstanding performance last week against Arizona State. In that outing he went seven innings allowing just two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out four. His brilliance on the mound was needed too, as TCU only managed two hits against Arizona State’s starter through the first six innings of the game.
The big stage of playing in big games or in a major league stadium is nothing new to Janczak. Not only did he start in the Fort Worth Regional, College Station Super Regional and College World Series last year, but he also earned a win in relief last year when TCU played Houston in this same tournament.
Sophomore Brady Feigl will make his third career start for the Rebels in Sunday’s matchup. He was 4-0 last year in 26 relief appearances and his 4.50 ERA is deceptively high. This is due to the fact that he gave up three runs in the 6th inning of his first start, but that was after allowing just two runs over the first five innings. In his latest start, he gave up just one run in the fifth inning after allowing just one hit over the first four. So, he’s growing into his role as a starter and tends to run out of gas when he starts getting into the later innings, but his ability and potential are undeniable.
*all offensive stats are as of 3/3/17, prior to the beginning of tournament play.
Ole Miss secured the No 1 recruiting class in college baseball this year, and is a team that is seeing major contributions from those young players. Their freshman catcher, Thomas Dillard, leads the team in batting average with .500, is first on the team with walks (4) and second in runs scores (7). He’s accomplished all that in only 18 at bats this season.
Another freshman making a big impact is first baseman Cole Zabowski. Cole has a .417 batting average and is second on the team in walks (3), RBIs (6) an runs scored (7). Providing excellent production as well as veteran leadership to these freshman stars in junior right fielder Will Golsan, who boasts an average of .355 while leading the team in walks (4), RBIs (7) and runs scored (9). As a team the rebels are hitting .319, which far outpaces TCU’s team average of .267.
While the TCU offense has seen its struggles through the first couple of weeks, they’ve gotten enough timely hitting to still put up a bunch of runs. The fact that they’ve hit 11 home runs so far has been a huge factor too. Even though Ole Miss hits for a higher average, TCU is averaging 8.6 runs per game to Ole Miss’ 7.6 runs per game according to warrennolan.com.
Nolan Brown is still riding a tremendous hot streak and was hitting .400 coming into the weekend. He’s also 4-4 on stolen base attempts. Luken Baker is right behind Brown, hitting .346, and is having success in almost every offensive category. He is first in runs scored (12) and slugging percentage (.692), and is second in walks (7), RBIs (8) and hits (9). Austen Wade has been impressive leading off for the Frogs with a .323 average, two home runs, six RBIs, eight runs scored, six walks and a .581 slugging percentage. He is 6-7 on stolen base attempts himself.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:35pm CT at Minute Maid Park and will be televised on Fox Sports regional coverage.