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TCU Baseball Hosts Texas in a Big Opportunity for Both Teams

TCU returns to Lupton with a chance to solidify their lead in the Big 12 standings.

Cam Warner and Evan Skoug celebrate at home plate

I imagine Texas must take offense to the fact that TCU has become the premier baseball program in the state. As much as Tech resents us for having to play second fiddle, the Longhorns passion for beating us must run deeper. They were the number one program in the state for decades, and had one of the best coaches in college baseball, Augie Garrido, who holds the record for most wins ever in the sport. Texas also holds the second most national championships with six, and holds the record for most College World Series appearances with 35.

TCU was the little brother to Texas for the first half of Schlossnagle’s career, as the Horns beat the Frogs in the Super Regional in Austin in 2009. But the 2010 team that beat Texas in Austin the following year to advance the Frogs to their first College World Series signaled a shift in the balance of power between the two programs. Since the demise of the Southwest Conference these two programs are 18-18, but under Jim Schlossnagle the Frogs are 13-8 against the Longhorns.

Texas’s season has seemed so up and down it’s surprising that they’re 31-16, and only 2 12 games back in the Big 12 race at 9-8. That means that a sweep this weekend could have them within a game of the lead. They have also jumped into Baseball America’s top 25 at No. 25 this week. It would be a big statement for TCU to sweep as well, and would give them a good shot at a 2 game lead in the conference given that Texas Tech has to travel to Morgantown this weekend.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Nick Lodolo vs. Morgan Cooper
Saturday: Brian Howard vs. Nolan Kingham
Sunday: Mitchell Traver vs. Kyle Johnston

Nick Lodolo pitched the game of his life last weekend in Lubbock. Against one of the best lineups in the country he tossed eight innings of one run baseball, allowing just four hits and giving up three walks with four strikeouts. He has a 4.39 ERA on the year, but has pitched at a high level over the last couple of weeks.

Brian Howard got absolutely lit up by the Red Raiders last weekend. He surrendered seven runs on five hits with three walks in 2 13 innings, raising his ERA to 5.43. To make it to Omaha, TCU will need Brian Howard to find himself. Traver’s start was cut short last weekend due to weather, but he allowed just one run off one hit in 2 23 innings. He walked five, but was able to pitch himself out of trouble. He seemed to be in solid control of the strike zone over his last inning, and that’s encouraging going into this weekend.

In Big 12 games, Texas has the best ERA in the conference at 2.87. Morgan Cooper is one of the best pitchers in the Big 12 this year, boasting an ERA of 1.45 to go with a 6-2 record and 86 strikeouts over 68 13 innings pitched. Nolan Kingham isn’t much of a drop-off either, with his 2.05 ERA and a 7-3 record on the year. Texas also has Beau Ridgeway coming out of the bullpen with a 1.43 ERA over 37 23 innings in 27 appearances. Ridgeway is 1-1 with 11 saves on the year.

Offensive Preview

The Longhorns are averaging 5 runs per game to TCU’s 6.9 and are hitting .246 to TCU’s .273. Kacy Clemens leads the Longhorns offensively with a .302 batting average to go along with a team-leading eight home runs, 35 runs and 35 RBIs. Travis Jones is second on the team with .279 batting average and 31 runs scored, and he leads the Longhorns with 29 walks. As a team they do have power, hitting 38 homes runs, just one behind TCU’s total of 39 and good enough for third in the Big 12.

TCU did not have a strong weekend offensively in Lubbock, but for some reason they just never look like the same team on the road. Austin Wade and Luken Baker still lead the team, hitting .344 and .324 respectively. Cam Warner, hitting .308, is now tied with Luken Baker for the team lead in runs scored and RBIs with 37, and he has hit 4 home runs, good enough for third on the team.

This weekend’s games will be played at 7:00pm, 12:00pm and 1:00pm CT on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Friday and Sunday games will be televised on ESPNU and the Saturday game will be on ESPN2.