I expect the Frogs to treat this game today for what it is, game one of their fourth straight Super Regional. That’s not to say that I think they’ll take it lightly. No Super Regional win has ever been easy for TCU. They have won these series the last three consecutive years, but it has always been a three-game battle. They’ve never won in two, and they know that no matter who they’re facing, it’s going to be a challenge.
Missouri State is 43-18 overall and 18-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference. They won the regular season conference championship and finished third in the conference tournament. Dallas Baptist won the tournament, but they were swept by Missouri State during the regular season. Against Big 12 teams Missouri State was 1-3 this year, losing to Kansas twice and Oklahoma State one during the regular season. The one win came against Oklahoma State in the Fayetteville Regional.
The Fayetteville Regional was a wild one as it was impacted by weather just like Fort Worth. The Bears stayed perfect through the first two games of the tournament, defeating OSU and Arkansas. In the regional final, they played Arkansas again in a game which was under an hour and a half rain delay and ended with the Razorbacks completing a comeback win around 3:00am. Stay woke TCU fans, Missouri State is trying to steal our thing. In the deciding game the Bears put the Razorbacks away 3-2. All three of Missouri State’s wins in the regional came by one run.
I haven’t seen any announcements as to what the starting pitching will be this weekend as of writing this. Melissa and I talked at length earlier this week about who the Frogs should start, but my guess would be they stick with what has been working and go with Traver, Janczak and Howard if necessary. These guys have been simply electric so far in the postseason.
“Over the last three weeks, Haylen Green, Brian Howard, Janczak, Nick Lodolo and Mitchell Traver have put together a miniscule 2.07 ERA in 65 1/3 innings pitched. They have fanned 63 while issuing just 12 walks and holding opponents to a .194 batting average.” - GoFrogs.com
Most of the work cited above was put in by the Traver, Janczak and Howard combo. They are also all undefeated so far this postseason. Also encouraging is the fact that Durbin Feltman appears to be rounding back into form. When The Frogs needed him in the 1-0 game against Virginia last weekend he faced just four batters in the ninth, walking the first and then striking out the side to secure the win.
The Bears have three quality starters on their roster as well. Harrison Keegan of the Springfield News-Leader said the following earlier this week in a Q&A with Frogs O’ War:
“MSU's top three starters -- Doug Still, Jordan Knutson and Dylan Coleman -- are really solid. They are experienced guys who can usually be counted on for quality starts. And then, as you mentioned, that Fromson-Young combo in the bullpen has been great for MSU this year. If TCU can chase the starters early and make someone not named Fromson or Young come out of the bullpen, then that would be good for the Horned Frogs. MSU used Knutson in some relief appearances in Fayetteville last weekend, and he did really well, so that is something else to watch for.” - Harrison Keegan
Fromson and Young both sport ERAs below 2.00 and are one of the best bullpen combos in the nation. Fromson is used as more of a middle reliever and Young is the closer with eight saves on the season. Still, Knutson and Coleman have ERAs of 2.66, 4.50 and 4.99 respectively, and all three have eight wins this year.
Jake Burger and Jeremy Eierman lead Missouri State offensively with 22 home runs a piece; they are batting .333 and .312 respectively. Both were named All-Americans this season. Burger and Eierman are also lead the team in RBIs with 65 and 67 respectively, and Eierman is 15 of 17 on stolen base attempts. Designated hitter Blake Graham is batting .325, but may not be available as he suffered a knee injury in the regional finale against Arkansas last weekend.
The Frogs have responded offensively to the loss of Luken Baker, with Wanhanen coming in and raising his batting average up to .278 from around .250 when Baker was injured. Skoug was on a tear in the Fort Worth Regional with three-run home runs in two of the three games; he has 18 on the year. Nolan Brown and Cam Warner have done a good job of protecting Skoug in the lineup as well, batting .290 and .286 respectively.
This weekend’s games are scheduled for 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, with the “if necessary” game three time being TBD. The Saturday game will be televised on ESPNU and the Sunday game will be on either ESPNU or ESPN2.