Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Carpenter makes Cards' Opening Day roster

Pretty good news coming out of the Grapefruit League, where the St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that former Horned Frog third baseman Matt Carpenter has made the opening day roster for the (grumble grumble) defending world champion Cardinals.

Carpenter, who batted .067 in his seven-game cup of coffee with the Cards last summer, earned his spot on the big league roster by batting .364 during spring training and will be playing a little first base in addition to third, and also probably some innings in the corner outfield positions.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at some of the other TCU baseball alumni and how they're doing in spring training with their respective organizations. For now, though- Way to go, Carp!

No DH tonight

When the Frogs come up to bat in the top of the 1st against UTA at Arlington's Clay Gould Ballpark tonight, they'll be doing so without a designated hitter in their lineup. True freshman Jerrick Suiter, who sports a perfect 0.00 ERA with two appearances so far this year, will take the mound for his first collegiate pitching start. And because he's batting .341 so far this year in 41 at bats, he'll be batting for himself- making the Frogs a bit of an NL-style club for at least one game.

We've seen a few TCU pitchers show off their versatility over the years. You'll remember Kyle Winkler laying down a bunt for an RBI against Kansas last year after the Frogs lost the DH when Josh Elander was hurt and original DH Jimmie Pharr had to switch to playing catcher. And a few pitchers, such as Greg Holle and Shawn Ferguson, have played an inning here or there in the outfield in late-game situations when Schlossnagle was running out of pitching options and needed to keep them available. But Suiter, who briefly walked on to the football team this fall and has expressed some interest in doing the same for Jim Christian's basketball squad, is the first real throwback the Frogs have had to the days when guys like Michael Aubrey, Brooks Kieschnick and Michah Owings ruled the college baseball world from the plate, field and mound.

Like the Frogs, the Mavericks have had an up & down season marked by offensive struggles. While they boast road wins against Texas and Oklahoma and have beaten Baylor at home, they are 13-11 overall and have dropped their last four- including a three game sweep at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana this past weekend. They are batting just .258 as a team (compared to TCU's team average of .247), but junior right fielder Preston Beck is just mashing the ball. Beck, a product of Dallas' Bishop Lynch High School, leads the Mavs with a .338 batting average, 5 home runs, 3 triples, 20 RBIs, a .638 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .466.

Opposing Suiter on the mound will be fellow true freshman Zach Thompson, an Arlington native who attended Grace Prep and the younger brother of Rangers farmhand pitcher Matt Thompson. He has an ERA of 3.95 through 13+ innings of work in six appearances, and tonight will be his second career start. On March 4th, he gave up three runs on five hits in five innings of work while taking the L in a 15-1 setback to Houston Baptist.

If you're wanting to head out to he game tonight but don't know where to go, Clay Gould Ballpark is located at the corner of West Park Road and South Fielder Road, about 2.5 miles south of I-30. From either Fort Worth or Dallas, you can get there by taking the Fielder exit off of the interstate.

Sun Bowl memories

The hard work that contributed to the turnaround of TCU's football program may have started way beforehand, but New Year's Eve 1998 will always be remembered as the day that the Horned Frogs re-arrived on the national scene. Heavy underdogs in the Sun Bowl against USC, TCU held the Trojans to a mind-blowing negative 23 yards rushing in the 28-19 victory.

Thanks to a youtube user named "MarqueeTCU", some of the highlights of that game are now immortal- so join me in jogging your memory:

First is a 60-yard touchdown run by Basil Mitchell on a perfectly-executed option play that extended the Frogs' lead to 14-0 in the 1st quarter:

Next is quarterback Patrick Batteaux scoring from three yards out on another option play in the 3rd quarter. Notice the cheap shot after he scores from USC's #55- Chris Claiborne, who was a consensus 1st Team All-American as well as the Butkus Award winner that year, and who played eight years in the NFL after having been drafted 9th overall by the Lions:

Finally, following a bit of a comeback effort by USC, London Dunlap sacked Trojan quarterback Carson Palmer- wearing #15 then- for what should've been a safety:

No more Martin

The Big 12, as a basketball league, just got a whole lot less entertaining. Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who at times makes Bob Knight look like a reasonable person, has accepted the head coaching job at South Carolina.

Martin leaves a sizable void in Manhattan in the wake of his departure- he won nearly 70% of his games during his five years at KSU and led the Wildcats to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the Elite 8 in 2010. I realize that the difference of KSU with or sans Martin doesn't really make THAT big of a difference in regard to the uphill climb the Frogs will be facing upon their entry to the conference, but the thought of one of the league's better programs potentially taking a step back is at least worth noting.

I haven't seen any word yet on who the Wildcats are targeting as a replacement, but using history as our guide they'll probably just assume that they can snap their fingers and hire someone who's already found a better job.

Morning Dump