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TCU Baseball Preview: Lucky #13?

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The Frogs hit the road to take on Dallas Baptist for the second time this year.

Melissa Triebwasser

Game Time: 6:30pm • Radio: 88.7 • TV: ESPN3

Baseball can be such a fickle mistress. The game can turn on any one pitch in any one inning at any given moment. It’s hard to win, even when you are the better team, as anyone who has been around the game know. That’s what prompted former Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington to utter his famous quote “that’s the way baseball go”.

TCU started the season as the consensus number one team in the country, and certainly looked the part through the first 12 games as they compiled an 11-1 record and dispatched three ranked teams from the SEC in convincing fashion down in Houston. But a 1-3 record out west, where they were dominated by unranked opponents, dropped them from the top spot and had people questioning their true ceiling. But, as Michael Jordan would say, for this edition of TCU Baseball, the ceiling is the roof. The Frogs have rattled off 12 straight wins heading into tonight’s game at DBU, winning three consecutive Big 12 series, including a pair of sweeps, and four in a row over all. They have just one loss in conference play, and stand at 26-5 overall.

During the 12 game stretch, TCU has hit 12 home runs, batted .306 as a team, held a 2.10 ERA. Austen Wade and Evan Skoug have been especially on fire, culminating with Skoug’s grand slam against Murray State and Wade’s 5-5 day Sunday. The Frogs are literally on fire.

But, the stretch of cellar dwellers and out of conference cupcakes is over now, as TCU’s RPI rises significantly tonight and stays up through the stretch run. The Frogs, who sit at #9 in RBI as of today, taking on #69 (DBU) Tuesday in Dallas, followed by conference series against the #17 (WVU), #10 (Baylor), and #4 (Texas Tech) to close Big 12 play. They will have a chance for westward redemption with an end of season set against Cal, who sits at #68. While the pitching has been electric and the depth overwhelming in a three game set, the offense hasn’t truly hit its peak yet. While there are encouraging signs from Skoug, Luken Baker, Elliott Barzilli, and others... just wait until they all start hitting all at once.

Pitching Matchup:

Mitchelle Traver vs MD Johnson

Traver makes consecutive starts for the first time this year, as he returns to the mound after making a two inning start against UTA in Arlington last week. Traver now sits 1-0 on the season with a 1.59 ERA, and threw two innings of two hit ball with four strikeouts against the Mavs. TCU likely hopes to get 3-4 solid innings out of Traver and he continues to work his way back to full healthy. On the other side, Johnson is making his sixth start and ninth appearance of the season, sporting an 0-1 record and 5.48 ERA. He has allowed 30 hits, struck out 17, and walked 18. On paper, it’s a good matchup for the hot-hitting Horned Frogs, who should look to continue their patient at bats, working to get ahead of opposing pitchers, and running up pitch counts with impunity. Neither player pitched in TCU’s 3-2, 10 inning win earlier this season.

Offensive Matchup:

The Frogs team average has risen significantly over the 12 game win streak, and now sits at .273 overall. While strikeouts have gone down, walks have gone up, and TCU has been both patient and aggressive at the plate, blasting the ball all over the park. The Patriots have lost four straight but still have a team batting average near .300, have blasted 69 doubles and 49 home runs. The Frogs now have four starters hitting over .300, as do the Pats. Jameson Hannah leads with a .338 average, and has hit seven home runs and knocked in 23 RBI, good for second on the team. Austin Listi is the only Pat in double digits for long balls with ten and is second on the team with 26 RBI.

Game Notes (via Go Frogs):

• TCU has moved up to No. 2 in one poll, while remaining steady at No. 3 in the others.

• TCU swept its opponent for the third straight weekend, pushing its winning streak to 12 games, the second-longest active streak in the NCAA.

• TCU hit .357 over the weekend, raising its team batting average to a season-high .273.

• The Horned Frog pitching staff continues to lower its ERA, lowering it to 3.29, a mark that ranks third in the Big 12.

• Luken Baker stretched his hitting streak to 12 games, while Elliott Barzilli extended his to nine.

• Six Horned Frogs have on-base streaks of 10 or more games, led by 19 straight for Austen Wade.

• The Frogs went 7-for-7 in stolen bases and now rank 11th nationally with 56 on the season.

• The Frogs drew 22 walks over the season to bring its season total to 179, a mark that ranks 10th nationally.

• TCU is one of three Big 12 squads with over 300 strikeouts and is the only conference school with fewer than 100 walks allowed (89).