You did it.
Yes, you the fan, did it. It wasn’t easy, but you survived the dreaded nine month absence of baseball at everyone’s favorite ballpark — the beauty that is Lupton Stadium. One eternity of an offseason later, baseball is finally back in Fort Worth, even if one day behind schedule thanks to mother nature.
The Horned Frogs will take the field for their home opener tonight vs. Abilene Christian, fresh off a successful weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz. that featured a 10-2 shellacking of No. 1 Vanderbilt on Sunday. TCU may have only checked at No. 24 in the Baseball America’s top 25 poll in wake of the hot start, but fear not, because there’s plenty of baseball left to play before the games that really matter come around.
In the meantime, here is everything you should know about the Wednesday night matchup between the Frogs and Wildcats, aside from the fact that there is bound to be a whole lot of purple in this clash of in-state foes.
TCU vs. Abilene Christian quick facts
LOCATION: Lupton Stadium — Fort Worth, Texas
FIRST PITCH: 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: Live stream at GoFrogs.com
RADIO: KTCU 88.7 FM
FORECAST: 55°F, Partly Cloudy
TCU RECORD: 2-1 (W2)
ACU RECORD: 1-2 (L1)
What to watch for
TCU, after getting blanked by Cal State Fullerton 2-0 in its season-opener on Friday, rebounded nicely for the remainder of the weekend, scoring a combined 19 runs and surrendering six in wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt. With a 4-game home-stand looming, the Horned Frogs have a prime opportunity to keep the momentum rolling and extend the win-streak after knocking off some elite competition in the desert.
Wednesday is also a chance for the Horned Frogs to get back at Wildcats squad who spoiled some the Lupton Magic a year ago. ACU, who only finished the year 21-33, dealt TCU a 4-2 extra-innings loss in Fort Worth last April — a game that saw former Frogs’ slugger Luken Baker suffer a season-ending knee injury and marked the start of a stretch in which TCU dropped five of six outings. Jim Schlossnagle & Co. since defeated ACU later that season in Abilene, 4-0, but rest assured that the Frogs haven’t forgotten the last time the Wildcats rolled into town. Not much energy is to be had for ACU coming into Cowtown, fresh off a 11-1 loss to Bryant University on home turf Sunday as the Wildcats dropped the season-opening series.
With Nick Lodolo, Jared Janczak and Jake Eissler all getting starts for the Frogs over the weekend in the MLB4 Tournament, Junior LHP Haylen Green is on track to be sent to the bump Wednesday night vs. ACU after making five starts and 16 appearances a season ago. Green had a 4.29 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 42 innings of work. With another offseason to develop, 2019 provides a chance for the Lufkin, Texas native to take his game to the next level as a go-to mid-week starter.
So, let’s now talk about TCU’s bats. Josh Watson has already been a reliable factor at the plate with 5 hits in 11 at-bats over the weekend, including a pair of hits that went for extra-bases across the victories over Virginia and Vanderbilt. But the real treat — Wednesday is the first night that most TCU baseball fans will be able to witness the new sensation that is freshman Porter Brown, who dazzled in Scottsdale with a .538 batting average and reached base nine times in his final eleven bats of the weekend. Sure, it’s a small sample size, but one would be hard-pressed to believe those numbers from a true-freshman are a fluke against such high competition. If the past three games were merely a preview of what is still to come for the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, then watch out. It could be a fun year for the San Antonio native.
Wildcats to keep an eye on:
Ryne Randle, Koby Claborn and Robert Salazar all had productive weekends at the plate for ACU in the series vs. Bryant. Randle led the team with a .358 batting average across three games, while Claborn and Salazar both homered in the series. Claborn had an additional three-run double in the team’s 8-6 win on Saturday, the lone victory for ACU in the series. How the trio will fair against noticeably higher-competition in the form of TCU remains at large, but none should be overlooked as the Frogs look to start things off at home on a positive note. Of course, there’s a decent chance that any production from those three may still not be enough, as ACU has allowed at least six runs in all three contests thus far this season, while TCU has surrendered eight runs total in that same span.