Baseball Preview: TCU

Cal State Fullerton's season got off to a slow start last weekend with only one win in three games. The Titans lost to Oregon in the much anticipated return of former head coach George Horton, were shut out by Pepperdine in an outstanding pitching performance by LHP Matt Bywater and beat Long Beach State 8-1 with solid hitting and a good outing by Tyler Pill.

Fullerton welcomes the TCU Horned Frogs to Goodwin Field in the only matchup this weekend of teams that are ranked in the top ten in at least one of the major polls.

TCU has appeared in regionals in all six seasons that Jim Schlossnagle has been in Fort Worth and look like they have an outstanding chance to once again play in a regional in June.  The Horned Frogs were the Mountain West Conference regular season champions last year and their program took a step forward by both hosting and winning a regional for the first time before they were eliminated in a super regional by Texas

TCU is the unanimous choice to win the MWC on the strength of a deep pitching staff that returns almost every major contributor from last year and some strong recruiting classes that have infused the program with a high level of talent to overcome the departures of several seniors from the middle of their lineup.

TCU got their season off to a successful start with by winning all three games at home against Sam Houston State (who have qualified for three straight regionals as champions of the Southland Conference). 

The Horned Frogs opened up the season with a 4-0 win on Friday with three pitchers combining for a shutout before the bats woke up on Saturday and Sunday in 12-7 and 15-2 wins.  It wasn’t much of a surprise that the staff ERA for the weekend was 2.88 and the TCU pitching staff held Sam Houston State to a .242 batting average.  What was impressive was a lineup with five newcomers hit a scorching .392 with a .569 SLG % in the three game sweep.

OUTLOOK

Fullerton played poorly in their first two games of the season before putting forth a much better effort in the final game last weekend.  The Titans have to figure out which team is going to show up in order to win this series.  Fullerton isn’t in a must win situation in this series but they are as close as you will find this early in the year because the Titans do not want to get off to a 2-4 or 1-5 start before playing the next three weekends on the road.

TCU rolled into Goodwin Field last year with a great deal of confidence and their experience lineup manhandled a relatively inexperienced Fullerton pitching staff.  The Horned Frogs have quite a bit of turnover in their batting order this year but they didn’t hit like it in their opening series in the D1 debuts for five of their hitters.

Runs could be difficult to come by this weekend with the experienced and talented pitching staffs that both teams have.  If it comes down to a battle of bullpens that would favor TCU because of the quality depth that the Horned Frogs have with their relievers.  Fullerton has to score runs early and have their SP’s hold TCU down and work late into games.  If the Titans are able to follow that formula Fullerton should win this series.  If the Fullerton lineup is held down like it was the first two games last weekend or the SP’s for the Titans struggle then TCU will win this series.