Little TCU, trying to make it’s way to Omaha. That’s how TCU (49-11) head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle described the Frogs’ Super situation heading into a best-of-three weekend series against a big-and familiar-opponent: Texas.
The Horned Frogs departed from Lupton Stadium at 11:30 a.m. this morning boasting a 10-game win streak, ready to embark on a rematch of the 2009 Austin Super Regional-game 1 begins at 2 p.m. Friday on ESPN 2.
Texas hosted TCU in last year’s super regional round, ending TCU’s season with a 5-2 victory in the third and final game of the series.
“I just had to step back and grasp the environment (in Austin last season); they do things a little different,” said TCU shortstop and Fort Worth Regional MVP Taylor Featherston. “But its still baseball. Going into this series knowing what happened last year I’m not too worried about it, were going to go in and play.”
Schlossnagle seems content with his team acting the role of David. Texas (49-11) probably doesn’t mind acting the role of Goliath, either, because Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido and his team doesn’t have to do much acting; they are Goliath.
Six national championships, seven players (three in the first three rounds) drafted to the Majors in 2010, and a 2009 College World Series runner-up appearance are all the credentials the ‘Horns need to flash to prove themselves worthy of that Goliath title. Throw in the lowest team ERA (2.44) in Division I college baseball and this doesn’t look like a fair match up without assessing their opponent.
TCU baseball boasts no national championships, much less a College World Series appearance, but while TCU might be David in this series when it comes to tradition and championship pedigree, this season they are only acting the part and trying to keep the pressure and expectations off of themselves (re: TCU football Fiesta Bowl bust).
Flip the 2010 season coin, however, and TCU has the seventh-lowest ERA in college baseball (3.48) as well as the Louisville Slugger Freshman Pitcher of the Year in Matt Purke, who will be given a chance to live up to his Major League potential as the starting Frogs pitcher Friday. Six Frogs were also drafted into the MLB.
Here is an eye-popping statistic: TCU ranks 211 spots ahead of Texas in Division I baseball batting average. TCU (ranked in the top 10) boasts a .345 batting avg. compared to Texas’ .289 avg.
Eye-popping statistics continued: TCU (again ranked in the top 10) is 157 Spots ahead of Texas with 750 hits compared to Texas’ 584.
TCU also has more power-90 home runs in 2010 compared to Texas’ 79.
While Schlossnagle said Texas had an underrated offense that still hits a lot of home runs, strength of schedule discrepancies doesn’t seem to fully make up for those numbers. TCU clearly has the offensive edge, while Frogs pitching, albeit, a full run lower in team ERA to Texas’, is at least comparable.
This by no means gives TCU the green light to steam roll over Texas in this series-pitching is everything in the college baseball postseason; 12 of the 16 super regional teams have team ERAs in the top 20 in Division I baseball. Seven teams in the top 10 in ERA have made it to the super regional round.
In comparison, only five super regional teams are in the top 50 in team batting average (TCU being the only super regional team in the top 10), and only four super regional teams are in the top 30 in hits (once again, TCU the only super regional in the top 10). The home runs category follows a similar trend.
“Certainly the thing you have to do when you playing Texas from a pitching stand point is to get their lead-off hitter out,” Schlossnagle said. “If you don’t do that they are going to put a bunt down and make you play defense with that bunt. Then they are going to hope for a hit; if they string together a couple of hits then that’s when they are going to have a big inning.”
Schlossnagle said TCU must take advantage of the opportunities Texas’ stellar pitching staff will give them, but that his team wont be afraid to execute skill plays such as bunts and squeeze-plays.
“I think we can play any brand of baseball we need to play to win a game,” he said. “We’re little old TCU just trying to make our way to Omaha.”
And that’s just how TCU wants it: David versus a burnt orange Goliath.
Austin, TX Super Regional (best-of-three series)
Who: University of Texas Longhorns
Where: UFCU Disch-Falk Field-Austin, TX
When: Friday: 2 p.m. (ESPN 2)
Saturday: noon (ESPN)
Sunday (if necessary): noon (ESPN)