TCU Baseball has always been an easy team to love. Jim Schlossnagle has done an incredible job recruiting talented, high character guys over the last 14 years, and it doesn’t hurt that they have done a ton of winning, as well. Though the 2018 season has certainly had its share of ups and downs, the Frogs might be getting hot at just the right time. A three game sweep of Lamar - making it six straight Ws for TCU - certainly bodes well, and despite the competition level, it’s hard not to be thoroughly excited about this pitching staff.
To make the NCAA field, the Frogs probably need to win 5 of their next seven games, and definitely take two of three from WVU at home this weekend, and win at least one in Austin to close out the regular season. Two wins in OKC is a reasonable expectation, and might be enough to get a team that has had so much postseason success the benefit of the doubt. But with an RPI of 66 and a 4-12 record against top 50 teams, nothing is guaranteed, unless they win the Big 12 Tournament. For what it’s worth, DI Baseball currently has the Frogs on the outside looking in in their latest projections.
For now, we can enjoy watching these unbelievable performances from the mound, and get fired up that they are coming from freshmen and sophomores. Maybe it’s too late for 2018 - maybe - but there is a lot to be excited about in the coming years.
Good isn’t descriptive enough for what the starting pitching did over the weekend. Sure, it’s Lamar, a bad team from a meh conference that shouldn’t be able to compete with a program and a brand like TCU. But, baseball is weird, and a sport - more than any other - where anything can happen on any given day and during any given at bat. So, I don’t care who you are playing, to have three starters combine for 22.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just seven hits, walking just three opponents, while striking out 33 - that’s damn good. For the Frogs to have guys like Jake Eissler and Haylen Green step up the way they have over the last two weeks, filling the void left by Jared Janczak and allowing Sean Wymer the time he needs to get right, is invaluable. We all knew that they were good bullpen pieces that could be trusted in tight spots and big moments, but nobody expected this, right?
Well, the ninth inning meltdown by the bullpen Saturday wasn’t ideal, nor was the fact that the Frogs’ offense produced only six runs against a Lamar staff that is allowing over five runs per game and has a 4.52 ERA, but they more than made up for it with 11 runs Sunday and a barrage of long balls over the course of the weekend. This isn’t a team that’s going to overpower you at the plate, but if they keep pitching like this, it won’t matter,.
Not a lot to complain about over the weekend, as TCU dominated Lamar from the mound, and got a nice offensive output to close things off Sunday, as well. So, we reserve our final spot for Connor Wanhanen, a good Frog who has had a tough couple of years at the plate. Wanny, a fourth year senior who has started basically every game since arriving on campus, broke onto the scene as a freshman, putting together a Freshman All-American campaign as he batted .329 and drove in 40 runs, putting an exclamation point on his rookie campaign with a two run jack that effectively put away the Aggies in that epic Super Regional. But, since then, Wanny has struggled, hitting just .231 as a sophomore and .281 as a junior, with 39 RBI combined over those two seasons. Now, as a senior, he has seen his productive fall off to the tune of a .239 average, one that has dropped him to the bottom of the lineup.
But maybe, just maybe, the Frogs’ first baseman is getting hot at the right time, as he hit his first home run since the Aggie killer four years ago Saturday, and received the kind of treatment you would expect for doing so:
Wanhanen is what we love about college baseball - those guys who play hard every day (204 total games played, 193 starts), are great teammates, great leaders, and capable of producing great moments - and it was awesome to see him go yard to cap off his time at TCU. Here’s to hoping he gets one or two more magical moments before this ride is over.
The Frogs will go without a midweek game as they look to survive finals week, before hosting WVU this weekend in the final three home games of the year. They finish the regular season with a four game road trip, with a one off at SFA followed by a three game set in Austin to close things out.