Texas Baseball Showdown
If you haven’t been paying attention to the college baseball Regionals recently, you probably aren’t alone – but man have you been missing some good stuff! On top of the excitement of the games last weekend, rarely does an opportunity present itself to us here at ScoreBoardTX like this upcoming weekend’s Super Regionals match-up in Ft. Worth – pitting my TCU Horned Frogs against my partner in crime here Rob Scichili’s Texas A&M Aggies (and yes we’ll both be in Ft Worth to watch it). Let the trash-talking begin…..
A little recap as to how we got here – TCU (47-12) rallied from an 8-1 deficit in the eighth inning to stun North Carolina State 9-8 in 10 innings in a “win and advance, lose you go home” game on Monday night, winning the Fort Worth Regional.
Meanwhile in College Station, Texas A&M (49-12) had just broken a seventh-inning tie to beat California 3-1 in the College Station Regional title game a few hours earlier. When the Frogs started celebrating their epic comeback it meant the Aggies were heading to Ft. Worth instead of staying home to play the Wolfpack.
The winner of the best of 3 series (Saturday, Sunday and Monday night if needed) will advance to the College World Series in Omaha along with the 7 other winning teams. Here are the other match-ups:
VCU (39-23) vs. Miami (47-15)
Louisiana-Lafayette (42-21) vs. LSU (51-10)
Arkansas (38-22) vs. Missouri State (48-10)
Florida State (44-19) vs. Florida (47-16)
Vanderbilt (45-19) vs. Illinois (50-8-1)
Cal State Fullerton (37-22) vs. Louisville (46-16)
Maryland (42-22) vs. Virginia (37-22)
Now on to the important stuff – why Rob and I are both convinced our schools will emerge victorious…..
Four Reasons the Horned Frogs will advance:
By Tom Fireoved
1) The Frogs love playing in front of the home purple at Lupton Stadium, where they’ve gone 33-3 this season (including the playoffs). A&M had limited experience this season playing away from Blue Bell Park, playing only 14 road games (10-4) and 6 neutral site games (5-1). Advantage home team.
2) TCU’s pitching staff has been dominant all season long, boasting the 2nd best team ERA in Division I ball at 2.38 (trailing only UCLA at 2.17), and for the second straight year the Frogs produced a trio of All-American pitchers (Riley Ferrell, Preston Morrison and Alex Young all were recently named Second-Team All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball). Everyone knows good pitching beats good hitting – especially in a short series (although I’m sure Rob will dig back to find a series to dispute this no matter how far he has to go) – and TCU’s staff is as good as it gets.
3) TCU is experienced, having made it to Omaha just last year, and boasts 14 returning players from that squad. If you watched the Blackhawks win over Tampa Bay in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night, you saw just how important “experience” can be when the collars start getting tight. Oh wait, forget all that, just look what happened in Ft. Worth on Monday night…..no panic.
4) TCU’s head man Jim Schlossnagle, besides being one heck of a manager, has the ability to tell the future. Take for example the middle of the 8th inning on Monday night, when the Frogs returned to the dugout, seven runs down and six outs away from a crushing, season-ending loss. Their “Carnac” of a coach (Google it kids) told them to look to the sky and simply said, “It’s a full moon, something crazy is going to happen – so just hang in there.” A little magic never hurts.
Four Reasons the Aggies will Advance:
By Rob Scichili
1) Yeah, yeah, yeah – “good pitching always beats good hitting.” Tell that to the 1990’s Atlanta Braves. A&M had some of the best offensive rankings in the nation, finishing 5th in home runs (68), 6th in sacrifice flies (34), 9th in batting average (.305), 10th in slugging percentage (.466), 12th in homers-per-game (1.11), 13th in on-base percentage (.394), 15th in hits (628), and 17th in runs (414). Stay alert and look out for the bubbles coming from the “TCU15” section after big Aggie hits.
2) Yes, TCU has a fantastic starting rotation; one of the best in college baseball. But the Aggies have a few pretty good arms of their own. And they’re hot. A&M pitching threw 53 innings in the College Station regional and gave up only seven runs. Matt Kent was an absolute warrior, throwing almost 100 pitches in the Friday night regional opener before coming back on two days rest to lead the Aggies to the regional win on Monday. He’s basically the staff co-ace, alongside Grayson Long (9-0 with a 2.53 ERA & 104 strikeouts). Then there’s A&M’s secret weapon – Tyler Stubblefield, who was penciled in as one of A&M’s top starters before a torn ACL in preseason drills sidelined him. He made his first start of the season last Sunday vs. Cal, tossing five innings and allowing one run just four-and-a-half months after the injury.
3) The Aggies are battle-tested, having played a harder schedule with a better record. The numbers prove it — A&M’s RPI of their schedule was ranked 5th, while TCU’s was also decent at 10. Aggies went 17-8 vs. the top-50 in RPI while the Frogs went 9-6. Expand that to the top-100 RPI and A&M went 26-11 while TCU went 20-10. The SEC is a better conference in baseball than the Big 12. Why are we in Ft. Worth this weekend, by the way?
4) History is on A&M’s side. The Aggies and Horned Frogs have met on 252 occasions, most of the meetings coming while both were in the Southwest Conference (the good old days when I was living in Hart Hall). The Maroon and White own a 160-88-4 record in the all-time series, including 12 of the last 16. Gotta come clean though, the Frogs have won three of the last four.
4a) “The Hit.” The 1991 play by Quentin Coryatt still somehow gives the Aggies an edge this weekend. Yes, I know he would be flagged for targeting in today’s game. Tom’s not going to like me, come Monday night. Aggies gunna Gig some Frogs.