Friday, May 6, 2011

TCU-Oklahoma State series preview

After taking a break from midweek games in order to take final exams this week, the Frogs take a break from their Mountain West schedule this weekend when they head north of the Red River for a three-game series at Oklahoma State. This will be TCU's third weekend series against a Big 12 team this year, after having beaten Kansas two games to one in February and sweeping Tech in March. Combined with the wins against Baylor and A&M and the two losses to OU, the Frogs are currently 7-3 against that conference with this weekend's games in Stillwater and Tuesday's home game against Baylor remaining.

Even though this weekend's series has no impact on either team's place in their respective conference standings, it may have an impact on both team's chances for hosting an NCAA Regional. We here at Spit Blood may have been expressing some pessimism when we wrote off the Frogs' chances of hosting, but at 31-13 with an RPI of #28, a strong finish might get them there. That would have to start, of course, by winning a road series against OSU- who is 30-13 and three spots ahead of TCU in the RPI rankings.

If the Frogs are going to come away victorious from this weekend, they'll have to do it without two of their starting pitchers. Matt Purke, who is hoping to return in time for the conference tournament, will be joined on the sideline by Steven Maxwell. Erik Miller, who has been shaky as a reliever this year but has put together solid starts the past few weeks, will again be in Purke's usual slot on Saturday. There's been no official word yet on who will take Maxwell's Sunday duties, but the smart money's on freshman Andrew Mitchell. With an already short-handed pitching staff to lose another key piece, it puts even more weight on Kyle Winkler's shoulders tonight to pitch well to set the tone for the series and efficiently so that he can eat as many innings as possible so that the bullpen is ready to help out the two fill-in starters Saturday and Sunday.

The Cowboys, who come into the weekend having lost four of their last six, have a batting order that is hitting a collective .302 and six regulars hitting over .300. Sophomore catcher Dane Phillips is at the top of that list at .369 and junior first baseman Zach Johnson is just behind him at .350. Both of those guys have on-base percentages of over .400. Their pitching staff has a collective ERA of 3.12 and a collective opponent's batting average of .254. They are led by senior Brad Propst, who is 7-2 on the season with a 2.01 ERA. Interestingly enough, though, Propst is slated to start Saturday opposite Erik Miller instead of tonight against Winkler.

Fan attention in the Metroplex is understandably on the Mavs-Lakers series and the Rangers hosting the Yankees for the first time since the ALCS (as Bob Sturm put it: "Lakers and Yankees in town at the same time? Oughta be a big weekend for Cowboys Stadium tours"), but don't neglect this series just because it's not being played at home and won't be on TV- a big weekend by the Frogs coupled with a win over Baylor next Tuesday could put them right back in the thick of the hunt to host a Regional.

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