Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TCU-UTPA series preview

The Frogs finally appear to have harnessed a little bit of momentum with their series sweep of Air Force over the weekend, but they'll have to switch gears to overcome their pesky habit of dropping midweek games to in-state opponents when UT-Pan American comes to Lupton for a two-game set starting tonight.

While the Falcons, like many of TCU's opponents, could mash the ball but not pitch- the Broncs of UTPA appear to be just the opposite. They are hitting just .268 as a team and are averaging less than 2 extra-base hits per game (the Frogs, whose bats have been the subject of much complaining from the fans, are hitting .310 and average nearly 4 extra-base knocks a game). The bright spot in the Broncs' lineup is Stuar Macinnes, a senior outfielder from Austin who is batting .400 on the year. On the flip side, UTPA is holding opposing batters to an identical .268 average and have a team ERA of just 3.75.

These stats for UTPA are taken from a relatively small sample size, as at 9-8 on the season they have played 10 less games than TCU- illustrating the difficulty that some smaller-profile programs have in non-conference scheduling. The Broncs have an RPI of #142, and have a few fairly respectable wins on their schedule- one over Louisiana Tech and two over TCU's former CUSA rival, Saint Louis.

Pitching depth is one of the biggest keys to winning in the college baseball postseason, and it will be tested this week as the Frogs will play 5 games as opposed to the usual 4. Schlossnagle has assigned the two pitchers with the highest ERAs amongst regular contributors to start against two pitchers for UTPA who have lower ERAs. Erik Miller, the face of the Frogs' pitching inconsistency, starts tonight with his ugly 6.16 ERA against 6'2" righty sophomore Luis Flores, who gives up 5.06 runs in every nine innings he pitches. Then tomorrow it's Kyle Starrat and his 4.85 ERA going up against 6'3" Canadian lefty Kyle Kotchie and his impressive 2.70 ERA.

So will this be a continuation of the momentum gained against Air Force, or another disappointing midweek setback? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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