Spit Blood’s TCU Baseball Primer For Noles
Posted by William Kristoph
(Note: This is a primer for FSU fans courtesy of Spit Blood, a TCU Horned Frogs blog. You can follow The Finch on Twitter for your TCU info. You can find my FSU primer for Horned Frogs over at Spit Blood if you’re interested in that. Thanks again to Spit Blood for filling us in on our opening game CWS opponent!)
TCU Baseball 2010:
51-12, 6-1 on neutral field.
Regionals- Defeated Lamar (16-3), Arizona (11-5), and Baylor (9-0).
Super Regionals- Defeated Texas in 3 games (W 3-1, L 1-14, W 4-1).
Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle led the TCU Horned Frogs to a school record in wins (51-12) and the team really seems to be hitting on all cylinders at this point in the season. TCU dominated in their 3 games in Fort Worth during the Regional, taking down Lamar, Arizona and Baylor and only trailing for ½ of an inning the entire weekend. They have won 12 of their last 13 games, with the lone loss being to the Longhorns in Austin Saturday. 14-1 was definitely a disastrous game for the Frogs, but much of the damage was caused by errors, walks, and against some lesser used arms in the TCU bullpen. However, the team bounced back admirably after such an ugly defeat with a 4-1 clinching victory behind an outstanding performance by sophomore pitcher Kyle Winkler (12-1), and 2 late inning insurance homeruns off Texas’s dominant closer Chance Ruffin. It was incredibly satisfying to get past the Longhorns, who defeated us in the Super Regional last year in Austin in 3 games. Not to mention their baseball fans are about as arrogant as they come and believe it is their birthright to go to Omaha every season, so now I imagine they will all go into a deep, dark depression until football season. But I digress; I’ll give you a few things to look for when facing the Frogs on Saturday…
At The Plate: One of the biggest preseason worries for TCU was where the power would come from in our lineup, after losing 5 starters from last years team who produced 38 HR’s. However, the team responded by belting a school record 92 homers. Senior 1B Matt Curry leads the way with 17 HR, followed by sophomore LF Jason Coats and senior C Bryan Holaday (13 each). Coats and Curry anchor the middle of the lineup, and have done a great job of driving in runs all season if the top of the order gets on base. Coach Jim Schlossnagle has retooled the lineup of late, but expect to see Coats and Curry hitting 3 and 4 in the lineup with sophomore Taylor Featherston leading off (although he was moved to 6th in game 3 vs. Texas). Also, junior Joe Weik has emerged lately as our most productive DH, a position that has seen multiple players platoon in and out of that spot through the course of the season. What makes this offense so potent is that there are no spots in the order where a pitcher can let up, as all of the starters are hitting over .300 and power can come from anyone. The main flaw at the plate is strikeouts, and when our offense is scuffling it’s usually due to strikeouts with runners on base and not being able to manufacture runs. However, we have shown the ability to execute small ball when it’s necessary.
In the Field: A strong suit all year for us, the defense struggled in the Texas series which was probably a result of nerves and adrenaline. Unfortunately, those nerves and adrenaline aren’t going to be any easier in Omaha. Taylor Featherston can make some spectacular plays at SS, but he consistently threw the ball high to first against Texas and made every routine play become a bit of a headache for Frog fans last weekend. Aaron Schultz has gone from a utility man to an outstanding defensive CF, and the corner infielders of Jantzen Witte (3B) and Matt Curry (1B) have been solid as well. The real superstar on defense is Catcher, team leader, and all around thorn in every opponent’s side Bryan Holaday. Not only does he catch one of the best pitching staffs in the country, but he has thrown out 51% of would be base stealers on the season. Texas, a team known for their pesky small ball, didn’t even attempt to run on him. However, the highlight of Holaday’s season to date came when a bitter UT fan yelled for him to “Get in the (batters) box and SHUT THE HELL UP!” He responded by depositing the next pitch into the left field parking lot. Moral of the story- don’t tell him what to do, ever.
On the Mound: I’ve been wrong many times before, but I expect TCU to throw freshman lefty phenom Matt Purke in game 1 against the Seminoles. The 14th overall pick by the Texas Rangers in the 2009 draft, Purke spurned big league money (thank you, Rangers’ financial troubles) to come to TCU, and after a few shaky starts early in the season, he has really settled in to become the ace of a loaded pitching staff. He boasts a 14-0 record with a 3.23 ERA (highest ERA of our 3 starters) and 133 K’s in just 103 IP. Down the stretch, he has been our most dominant and most consistent starter, and he shut down Texas’s lineup on Friday. I expect to see him in game 1 because he has the ability to dominate a game more than Winkler or Stephen Maxwell, who struggled mightily against Texas in game 2 Saturday. Bullpen depth isn’t our strength, but if it’s needed expect to see Senior righty Tyler Lockwood. He has a heavy sinker and can get ground balls that get us out of trouble, and he throws a lot of strikes. Kaleb Merck could be used to close out games, but I’d expect it to be Lockwood. If we go with anyone else out of the bullpen against you, then you’ve already won. Oh, and a couple more things about Purke- he is the biggest bad ass to wear Rec Specs since Horace Grant, his hat is crooked, and he will fist pump more than Tiger Woods at a Hooters. We know he looks goofy, but he can wear women’s underwear if he keeps shutting down every opponent in his path.
Prediction- Matt Purke continues to prove he is a big game pitcher despite his age, and the smaller field of Rosenblatt Stadium is a welcome change for our bats from the cavernous Disch-Falk Field in Austin. Holaday and Weik homer in a 6-2 TCU victory. However, these results could change if the Noles place famous alum and resident Slut Jenn Sterger behind home plate while we are pitching and in the hitter’s backdrop during our at bats.