TCU is in a good spot right now, riding a 13-game winning streak with a 27-5 record. Their conference record of 8-1 puts them at No. 1 in the Big 12, two games ahead of their opponent this week, West Virginia. It’s never easy to win as many games as TCU has so far this year, but it is true that they’ve only played four teams with a top 50 RPI, and they’re 3-1 in those games.
Their next five Big 12 opponents are in the top 50 in RPI, so the Road To Omaha, and a Big 12 title, is about to get a lot more difficult. West Virginia has the second highest RPI among those teams at 13, and more importantly the Mountaineers could take over 1st place in the Big 12 with a sweep. Texas Tech is 2 1⁄2 games back from the Frogs after losing to Kansas State in their series opener Thursday.
The Mountaineers opened up the season with three straight series losses. However, over that period they did notch two wins over defending national champion Coastal Carolina. They started winning when they entered Big 12 play with a series victory over Baylor. Since then they have won their last four series and they sit at 19-12 overall (6-3 in the Big 12).
Friday: Jared Janczak vs. B.J. Myers
Saturday: Nick Lodolo vs. Michael Groove
Sunday: Brian Howard vs. TBA
Janczak has been on fire for the last month. He has had two near-perfect games over that stretch and he still hasn’t lost a game this year. He’s 6-0 in his eight starts and he’s got a 1.79 ERA on the year. B.J. Myers, the junior right-hander for West Virginia, has a 3.57 ERA in his eight starts with a 3-2 record.
Nick Lodolo has also really come on over the last month, flashing some of the potential that the MLB saw in him as a first-round draft pick. In his last start against Murray State he gave up just one run over four innings before running into some trouble in a five-run fifth. He’s 3-1 in his eight starts with a 4.93 ERA. Sophomore right-hander Michael Grove will take the mound opposite Lodolo. Grove is 3-1 in seven starts with a 2.72 ERA. Last week against Kansas he pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just one hit.
Brian Howard is 5-2 in his nine starts this year with a 4.83 ERA. He still isn’t the same pitcher who made such a dominant run through the 2016 postseason, but last week he showed that he is on the way back to finding himself. Against Murray State he pitched five innings with a career-high 11 strike outs, allowing just one earned run and four hits while walking three batters. Howard and Lodolo both may have high ERAs, but in Big 12 games TCU is No. 1 in the conference with a team 1.93 ERA in their nine league games.
TCU has raised their batting average from around .250 at the start of their current winning streak, to .273 going into this weekend. That puts them at 6th place in the Big 12, but they are tied for first in the conference with 30 home runs. Needless to say the #MashForMicah campaign is going well. Luken Baker just hit his seventh home run of the year Tuesday night against Dallas Baptist, and he’s hitting .306 on the year with a team-best 32 runs scored. Austen Wade is hitting .449 during the current win streak (.339 on the year) and Evan Skoug has a team best 18 RBIs and is second on the team with 30 runs.
West Virginia has a slight statistical advantage over TCU with a team batting average of .287 on the year, good enough for second in the Big 12 behind only Texas Tech. The Mountaineers are just one home run shy of tying TCU for first in the Big 12 with 29 long balls. Sophomore infielder Cole Austin leads the Mountaineers with a .346 batting average but senior 1B Jackson Cramer holds the top spot in runs scored (29), RBIs (27), slugging percentage (.547) and home runs (7). OF Brandon White leads the team going 9-14 in stolen base attempts and is second on the team hitting .333.
This weekend’s games are scheduled for 5:30pm, 3:00pm and 11:00am CT on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Friday game will be televised on Fox College Sports - Atlantic, and you can follow the other games over the radio on 88.7 FM or through Frog Vision.