As of last Wednesday, it’s officially springtime. And there was plenty of Lupton Magic in the air in Fort Worth this weekend as TCU baseball mounted a comeback victory not once but twice against Texas, taking the series, 2-1, from the No. 9 Longhorns.
Having won six of their last seven, the No. 19 Horned Frogs will look keep the momentum going Tuesday night when UT-Rio Grande Valley rolls into town (There’s also a pretty important basketball game, if you didn’t hear, that could just overlap with this one tonight, so double-dip if you’re up for it!).
No. 19 TCU vs. UT-Rio Grande Valley
When: 5 p.m. CT
Where: Lupton Stadium — Fort Worth, Texas
Records: TCU (15-7, 2-1 Big 12), UTRGV (15-9, 1-2 WAC)
Series history: TCU leads 50-13-1
Projected starters: TCU — Dawson Barr (0-0-0), UTRGV — Gabe Constantine (0-0-1)
What to watch for:
A lopsided series (and then some): UTRGV isn’t a school the Horned Frogs have had much trouble with over the years, as the all-time series record indicates. TCU is a perfect 22-0 against the Vaqueros since Lupton Stadium opened and hasn’t lost a matchup in the series since March 2002, winning 25 straight since. UTRGV’s last win in Fort Worth came way back in February 1996, and with the Vaqueros coming of recent series losses to both Kansas State and Sacramento State, momentum is clearly on TCU’s side entering this one. Adding to that, the Horned Frogs are 9-2 at home in 2019, so Lupton hasn’t exactly been an easy place for visitors to play to begin with.
First start for Barr: The true freshman from Flower Mound excelled as a senior at Liberty Christian High School last season, compiling a 12-1 record with 85 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA. Barr has only appeared in five games for TCU — all out of the bullpen — this season, most recently throwing for a pair of innings in Saturday’s lost to Texas. Barr surrendered three hits and a run during that appearance but also recorded a pair of strikeouts.
Which version of TCU will show up? That’s been the biggest mystery of all for the Horned Frogs this season just more than a month in, with a tendency to string together big wins with a blowout-loss, much like Texas’ 13-1 rout of the Horned Frogs Saturday, sprinkled somewhere between. When the bats are cold, they’re susceptible to being ice cold.
But the good news is when TCU is dialed in, the Horned Frogs have been firing on all cylinders. TCU’s .311 team batting average is the second best mark Big 12 and ranks ninth nationally, fueled by the likes of Jake Guenther, Hunter Wolfe, Austin Henry and more. Guenther’s .389 batting average is the best of any player in the conference, and Henry’s 25 RBIs on the season put him fourth him at fourth in that department. The Horned Frogs have put up at least nine runs in 11 of their 15 wins on the year, fresh off a 12-run outing on Sunday in the finale with Texas. For what it’s worth, TCU also has a history of scoring big vs. UTRGV, plating 10 runs or more in four of the past five meetings.
Opposing player to watch: Four batters in the Vaqueros’ projected starting lineup for Tuesday night are hitting above .300, but second baseman Anthony Gomez is worth keeping an eye on above the rest. His .347 batting average, 28 RBIs and three homers are all team-highs for UTRGV this season. The Vaqueros’ win over Sacramento State on Sunday was no exception to Gomez’s tendencies, as he hit the team’s go-ahead two-out, two-run double in the top of the sixth inning.