TCU looks to begin its return to Omaha this afternoon in game one of the Fort Worth Super Regional. The Frogs have won over fans and writers alike over the past two months by playing nearly perfect baseball. Newly drafted Royal, Brandon Finnegan will get the start today as Pepperdine will likely go with its dual-threat, Aaron Brown.
Everyone on this board knows where the TCU pitching staff is right now---the best ERA in the Nation, the second best WHIP, second best K/9, among others---and how this is the type of stuff that gets you to Omaha. Watching that Marathon of a game last week---which is what I assume a cricket game is like---the true depth of TCU’s staff was on display. You couldn’t help but smile for the security of the Frogs in the upcoming years because Teakell was absolutely dazzling and Brian Trieglaff made a great appearance as well. Looking ahead to this series, we all know how great Preston Morrison and Brandon Finnegan are, but as of late, it's been freshman Tyler Alexander turning the most heads.
TCU Pitching by the Numbers
K/9: 8.4 (6th)
ERA: 2.14 (1st)
WHIP 1.14 (2nd)
Strikeout/Walk Ratio: 3.79 (2nd)
Hits Allowed Per 9 innings: 7.01 (7th)
The Waves aren’t too shabby themselves. They’ll have Aaron Brown (12-1, 2.07 ERA, 100 Ks) on display Saturday night, Corey Miller (9-4, 1.75 ERA, 80 Ks) on Sunday, and likely Jackson Mclelland (8-3, 3.53, 47 Ks) on Monday---if necessary. Matt Maura and AJ Puckett are also solid relief options.
Pepperdine’s crown jewel is the pitcher/center fielder, Aaron Brown. Brown is projected by most outlets to go in the top-rounds as either a pitcher or fielder----and it’s easy to see why. As a pitcher, he’s 11-1 with a 2.24 ERA and is hitting .310 with team highs in slugging (.539) and home runs (12)---Brown is also second in triples with 3, just one behind Hutton Moyer. Brown and the Waves also have a great closer in Eric Karch (1.80 ERA, 13 saves).
Pepperdine Pitching by the Numbers
K/9: 6.7 (118th)
ERA: 1.18 (10th)
WHIP: 2.52 (10th)
Strikeout/Walk Ratio: 2.17 (69th)
Hits Allowed Per 9 innings: 7.54 (14th)
Here’s where things get slightly less interesting. TCU has a just three players hitting over .300; Garrett Crain (.340), Boomer White (.327) and Dylan Fitzgerald (.317), but the balance top to bottom is better than most think. Kyle Bacak may be the most skilled bunter in the Big 12, which by default, could make him the best in the country. TCU also gets a big boost from the speedster Cody Jones, the power hitting Kevin Cron, and the clutch Jerrick Suiter. The Frogs may not score many runs, but their record over the past two months shows that they keep finding ways to win.
Offensively, Pepperdine gets a big boost from freshman catcher Aaron Bennett, who’s hitting a team-high of .373 (over 60 points above anyone else on the team). The waves also get an offensive boost from Hutton Moyer and Brad Anderson. Defensively, Bennett is outstanding as a catcher, highlighted by tossing out 42% of base stealers. Second baseman Many Jefferson, also a freshman, is superb defensively and is a big playmaker. In addition to showing great range and making big plays, Jefferson also boats a .957 fielding average
With one of the Nation’s top pitching staffs, if not the top---it’s going to take a lot to bully the Frogs in their own ballpark in front of a packed house. Not only did TCU show its resiliency against a solid Sam Houston State team twice last weekend---with the way the Waves swing the bats and the way TCU staff is pitching right now, Pepperdine is going to have to score 4 or 5 runs to beat the Frogs in a given game.
TCU will have to work, but they win in two.