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TCU Baseball heads to West Coast for big weekend

The Frogs face their first significant test of the 2020 season.

TCU Baseball at UTA | Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, TX | March 19, 2019
TCU Baseball at UTA | Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, TX | March 19, 2019
Melissa Triebwasser

After a disappointing loss on Tuesday at home to UT-Arlington, TCU baseball looks to rebound with a tough weekend trip to the West Coast.

The Frogs will take on No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 UCLA, and USC in a three day span. No doubt it will be TCU’s biggest test in this early portion of the season. This is the every-other-year pilgrimmage formerly known as the Dodger Stadium Classic. This year, though, it is being co-hosted by USC and UCLA. The Frogs will play twice at USC, and once at UCLA. (all times listed are CT)

Friday: @ USC | 8:00pm

TCU Starter: Johnny Ray (1-0, 1.93 ERA)

USC Starter: Kyle Hurt (1-1, 4.91 ERA)

Watch: USC Live Stream

Radio: KTCU 88.7

The Trojans are off to a 7-4 start this season, and are coming off a 5-1 midweek loss to UC Irvine. TCU won the last match between these two teams 10-1, back in 2018, but both rosters look significantly different now in 2020.

For USC, they rely on several big bats in the middle of their lineup. Sophomore first baseman Clay Owens leads the team in hits, home runs, RBI, total bases, with an impressive .395/.632/.457 slash line.

Yale grad transfer Ben Wanger has been hot as of late from his designated hitter spot. Wanger has an insane .484 batting average, and he also pitches for the Trojans. Wanger has pitched 4.1 scoreless innings in relief for USC.

USC’s starter for Friday, Kyle Hurt, struggled in his last outing against Seton Hall, going just three innings and allowing five earned runs. Control was an issue for Hurt, who walked two and hit a batter, while also allowing four hits.

Saturday: @ UCLA | 4:00pm

TCU Starter: Charles King (1-1, 3.86 ERA)

UCLA Starter: Nick Nastrini (2-0, 2.63 ERA)

Watch: UCLA Live Stream

Radio: KTCU 88.7

UCLA is off to an 11-1 start on the season, but their lone loss came this past Tuesday, at UC Santa Barbara.

The Bruins have an impressive resume early on, beating No. 24 Pepperdine 8-2, Oklahoma State 8-1, and then-ranked Texas A&M 10-2, while also sweeping UC Riverside and St. Mary’s.

Sophomore Matt McLain is absolutely hammering the baseball this year, with an OPS of 1.101, and 12 runs scored/17 RBI in just 11 games played. OF course, it takes more than one great hitter to make a dominant lineup like UCLA’s, and guys like Kyle Cuellar, Garrett Mitchell, and JT Schwartz have all had big impacts this season.

Saturday starter Nick Nastrini struck out eight Aggies in his last appearance, but control seemed to get away from him at times too. He walked four batters, hit one, and threw five wild pitches in five innings of work.

Sunday: vs. Vanderbilt (at USC’s stadium) | Noon

TCU Starter: Russell Smith (2-0, 1.69 ERA)

Vanderbilt Starter: Jake Eder (1-0, 3.86 ERA)

Watch: TBD

Radio: KTCU 88.7

Vanderbilt baseball in 2020 is a strange bird. They’re ranked No. 2 in the country, but already have three losses on the season, to Michigan (respectable), Cal Poly (oh), and Hawaii (huh?). This weekend will be similar for them as it is for TCU - a test against great competition to see how they actually stack up.

Defensively they’ve committed 14 errors already, and they’ve been experimenting with different lineups - 12 different players have started at least 4 games this season.

Sunday starter junior Jake Eder was on the mound for the loss to Cal Poly, but most recently posted a five inning, five strikeout performance against Hawaii. He’ll look to continue his efficient season against the Frogs.

Isaiah Thomas and Austin Martin have been the source of power for Vandy this season, combining for 16 extra base hits, including seven home runs and 20 runs batted in.