#3 TCU Horned Frogs (2-1) vs Long Beach State (1-3) | Location: Lupton Field - Fort Worth, TX | Series: 0-4 (LBSU)
Saturday Feb. 24th | 2:00 p.m. | 88.7 KTCU | RHP Jared Janczak (0-0) vs. LHP Zak Baayoun
Saturday Feb. 24th | 5:30 p.m. | 88.7 KTCU | Nick Lodolo (1-0) vs. RHP Eli Villalobos
Sunday Feb. 25th | 1:00 p.m. | FSSW | 88.7 KTCU | Sean Wymer (0-0) vs. LHP Clayton Andrews
TCU and Long Beach State will (finally) meet for the fifth time in their respective histories Saturday afternoon, opening the series with a double-header thanks to a week’s worth of torrential downpour in North Texas.
The Frogs are coming off of a 2-1 series win over Grand Canyon University last weekend in Arizona, including a ninth inning comeback Friday night and an incredible six-run comeback Sunday that fell just short in the 12th inning. TCU got an exceptional performance from Friday night starter Jared Janczak in a no-decision, while both Nick Lodolo and Sean Wymer scuffled a bit in their first starts of the season. They will have a second chance to knock the rust off against an offensively challenged Dirt Bag squad, who are averaging just two runs per game through their first four, resulting in a 1-3 record.
Long Beach is led by senior utility infielder Laine Huffman, who is off to a scorching start, hitting .429 on the season with a double and the Dirtbags’ lone long ball. The team is hitting just .221 as a unit, and no player other than Huffman has even an extra base hit.
Fortunately for LBSU, the pitching has been exceptional early. With a staff ERA of 3.25, it’s certainly not the arms at fault for the slow start. Saturday afternoon starter Zak Baayoun threw seven innings of four hit, one run ball in his season debut, striking out 12 and walking just two. Watching him and JJ trade innings painting corners in the home opener should be a real treat for fans.
Following game one, Long Beach will turn to Villalobos, who struggled in his first action of the season. The junior righty made his first career start last week after being one of the most reliable relievers for Long Beach during their run to the Super Regionals a season ago. He didn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing five runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in while getting just seven outs. He will have a tough challenge in lefty Nick Lodolo, who was lights out last week through the first four innings before a tough fifth did him in - though he did collect the only win by a starter in the process. The sophomore has ridiculous stuff, and should return to form in front of the home crowd.
On Sunday, Sean Wymer will try and bounce back after a tough first career start that saw him surrender six runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings of work. Wymer did have five strikeouts and no walks, and should settle into the starting role sooner rather than later. He squares off against lefty Clayton Andrews, who scattered seven hits across six innings for two runs, struck out six and walked one.
Relievers Sebastian Sanchez (1.93 ERA, 0 Ks, 1 BB), Adam Seminaris (5.40 ERA, 3 Ks, 4 BB), and Jake Lopez (2.70 ERA, 2 Ks, 2 BB) will all see action as well.
Keys to the Game:
Error Free Baseball
TCU was sloppy on opening weekend, committing five errors over their first three games, including two in the bottom of the 12th Sunday that ultimately cost them the win. The pitching has a chance to be so good - the defense needs to back them up in return. With so many new faces - and two true freshmen - in the infield, there’s bound to be growing pains, but there’s not a lot of time to figure things out.
TCU hasn’t played in a week, and their field hasn’t been useable for much of that time. Will the young Frogs be fresh from the time off, or rusty from having played just three games before an extended break? When you have so many new players, you have to play games. The Frogs can’t control the weather, but hopefully they won’t show the ill-effects of too much time watching the tarp.
Home Field Advantage
It feels like forever since we have had some Lupton Magic - for a team that has opened on the road for the first time in five years, and missed their scheduled home opener on Tuesday due to rain - it should feel awfully good to run out to the roar of the Fort Worth crowd. With a home basketball game Saturday morning to get good and frothy - and the sun being rumored to make an appearance - it should be an excellent environment for the new home opener. A fast start will keep the crowd into it, and the Lupton Magic could lead to a big Saturday for TCU.