Preview and Open Thread: TCU vs. Texas Tech

The #19 Texas Tech Red Raiders host the #2 TCU Horned Frogs in a pivotal series for the Red Raiders. Preview after the jump.

TCU vs. Texas Tech
Series Details:

Dates: Thursday, April 2nd – Saturday, April 4th
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-11, 3-3)
Bad Guys: TCU Horned Frogs (21-5, 4-2)
Location: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park | Lubbock, TX
Game Notes: PDF
TV/Stream: Thursday: Fox College Sports – Atlantic; Friday: Fox Sports Southwest; Saturday: None
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates and TuneIn App

TCU has got it all right now. Go look at those ERA’s for the starting pitchers below and you’ll see that this is a team that’s pitching incredibly well. The team for TCU has an ERA of 2.00 and don’t worry, TCU also is leading the Big 12 in hitting, so the offense is chugging along just fine as well. TCU has the 2nd, 3rd and 7th best pitcher in the Big 12, according to ERA, and they’re the three starters, while every other Big 12 team only has one pitcher represented in the top 10 of Big 12 ERA’s. Meanwhile, OF Connor Wanhanen, a true freshman, leads the Big 12 in hitting at .409, while OF Cody Jones is third at .378, and OF Nolan Brown is 10th at .330. None of those guys are power hitters, but TCU gets on base. This is going to be a tough series for Texas Tech to win. Timely hitting and if Dylan Dusek is healthy, then I think there’s a chance.

Q&A with Frogs O’War

Marshall Weber from Frogs O’ War to discuss their baseball team. You can find my answers here, so make sure and check it out.

1. TCU has all of the pitching and hitting. Yes, all of it. Has only lost 5 games all year. Coming off a College World Series appearance, did you expect this type of repeat performance?

Pitching, yes. Replacing Brandon Finnegan was going to be hard, but knowing the rest of the staff and having certain guys in line, you kinda assumed it wouldn’t be a problem. Hitting? Hell no. This team was a dumpster fire of boring last year at the plate. And I think I have this stat memorized, but don’t kill me if it’s wrong; 8 out of TCU’s last 9 games last year from the Regionals to the CWS elimination loss against Ole Miss were decided by one run. That’s a lot to ask for from your pitching staff and a little pathetic from you offense. The freshmen and newcomers have greatly exceeded all expectations and seniors like Cody Jones and Keaton Jones have stepped up as well.

2. The starting pitchers for TCU have been nothing short of dominant, all three pitchers have ERA’s under 2 and the only starter to have registered a loss is Alex Young, who has an ERA of 0.98. What can Texas Tech fans expect from the TCU starters?

Despite having two righties in the rotation; the melange you get in from the rotation is pretty spectacular. You’ll see a power pitcher in Mitchell Traver on Thursday, a Greg Maddux-eque groundball righty in Preston Morrison Friday, and a cheeky lefty in Alex Young to close out the series. Them all being so different, plus Riley Ferrell to close things out on weekends makes it really hard for teams to collect weekend wins against this TCU team.

3. TCU is leading the Big 12 in batting, but is 5th in runs scored. It appears that leading the TCU offense is true freshman Connor Wanhanen and senior Cody Jones, talk a bit about the offense and how the Horned Frogs have fared offensively this year.

I champion for Wanhanen. He doesn’t play as much as I would like, and usually doesn’t start when facing left-handed pitching. The run conundrum has some to do with the Frogs playing 3-4 less games than most teams because they had to cancel their Cal Poly series the weekend of really bad weather a month or so ago. They’ll catch up.

However, they do leave a lot of men on base and aren’t the best at capitalizing on brilliant opportunities.

4. Given the current trajectory of the team, it seems like every TCU fan would bet that this group will certainly make it back to the College World Series. If everything stays as status quo, is this your expectation as well?

The College World Series was a dream at this point last year. Like I said above, the pitching is just as good, if not slightly better than last year. Mix that in with a team that can actually hit and doesn’t rely on late inning heroics–you’d think it’d be good enough to get back to Omaha. But a lot of that depends on whether or not the Frogs get another National Seed and who they would play in the post-season.

I do worry about them burning out too early.

5. Last, what’s your prediction for the series?

Frogs take the series 2-1. I don’t think I can call a sweep until TCU does it against a conference opponent. Not to mention, Tech’s still dangerous as hell, and it’s in Lubbock. But I think the new-ish TCU offense takes advantage of the Tech pitching in a hitter’s park and that gets it done this weekend.

Probable Starters:

Game 1: Thursday, April 2nd @ 6:30 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: RHP Ryan Moseley (2-2, 3.56)
TCU Starting Pitcher: RHP Mitchell Traver (4-0, 1.13)
Final Score & Box Score: TCU 8, Texas Tech 0 (recap and box score)

The score was much closer than the final score appears as Ryan Moseley pitched 8 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 2 runs, walking 3 and striking out 7. Seriously, he was terrific. One of those runs from Moseley was a balk, so you only had 1 earned run in the 8th off of a walk pitch. The score appears worse because the relievers just dumped a bunch of gas on the thing and lit it on fire as Jacob Patterson gave up 2 runs without registering an out and Johnathon Tripp gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, in an inning of work.

The offense continued to struggle as they managed only 5 hits against TCU’s Mitchell Traver and some bullpen folks. Neslony, Gutierrez, Raley Lyons and Floyd all managed a hit and that was it. If the offense isn’t going to do it’s thing on it’s own, then it needs to figure out a way to do it creatively. I’m not baseball savvy enough to know what that is, but Texas Tech is going to need to pressure TCU.

Game 2: Friday, April 3rd @ 2:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: LHP Cameron Smith (3-2, 3.12)
TCU Starting Pitcher: RHP Preston Morrison (6-0, 1.79)
Final Score & Box Score: Texas Tech 5, TCU 1 (recap and box score)

Cameron Smith pitched a gem. An absolute complete game gem. Smith pitched 9 innings, allowing just 5 hits, 1 run, striking out 6 and walking 2. Smith was in control for the entire game and kept TCU off balanced the entire game with the only run coming in the second inning, and 3 of those 5 hits. Smith pitched 134 pitches, which is pretty high but I’m guessing that head coach Tim Tadlock wanted his entire bullpen pretty much available to him for game three today.

The offense snapped back and answered TCU’s lone run in the second inning with 3 runs of their own, including a single by Eric Gutierrez, a bunt by Anthony Lyons, and a Quinn Carpenter doubled scoring Lyons and Gutierrez. Orlando Garcia then bunted for a single as well, scoring Carpenter. Gott love pushing the limit on those bunts. Texas Tech never looked back and would score an insurance run in the 4th and 5th innings.

And maybe the player of the game, aside from Smith, was Orlando Garcia, the true freshman from El Paso, who went 3-4 with 2 RBI and will be filling in for Tim Proudfoot while Proudfoot is out with a lower leg injury that will have him missing a couple of weeks.

Game 3: Saturday, April 4th @ 2:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: TBA
TCU Starting Pitcher: LHP Alex Young (5-1, 0.98)
Final Score & Box Score: TCU 4, Texas Tech 1 (recap and box score)

The only run for Texas Tech came from Stephen Smith, who hit a home run in the first inning, and the Red Raiders managed only 4 more hits the entire game, one of them coming from Smith and the other two coming from Tyler Neslony. A pretty quiet day offensively against a very good TCU pitching staff. Ty Damron got the start and he had a rough go at it, going only 1.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 3 runs, all earned, walking 1 and striking out 1. Corey Taylor picked up in relif, pitching a gem of 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, 1 run, no earned, walking 1 and striking out 4. Dominic Moreno pitched the final out.

TCU is the toughest team on the schedule and things should be a bit easier moving forward. Oklahoma State and Texas are the toughest teams remaining on the schedule and Texas Tech needs to win series against West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas State.  Oklahoma State and Texas aren’t perfect, so those are winnable series as well.  Just won’t be as easy.


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