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BREAKING DOWN THE SHOWDOWN: NO. 24 TEXAS AT NO. 9 TCU

With Texas' last two Big 12 series on the road at TCU (12-6, 32-11 overall) and home vs West Virginia (10-8, 26-17 overall) - who are both ahead of Texas (9-8, 30-16) in the league standings - the Longhorns probably need to win four of their last seven to qualify for a berth in an NCAA regional. So we breakdown the showdown: Texas at TCU ...

THE BOTTOM LINE:

This is a huge series from a momentum and resume standpoint for the 24th-ranked Longhorns (30-16), who have won 8 of 9 and find themselves as a probable No. 3 seed/bubble team right now for the NCAA postseason.

The No. 9-ranked Horned Frogs, the College World Series runner-up last season, are coming off a series loss at Texas Tech last weekend in which they lost Games 2 and 3, including a 21-3 rout by the Red Raiders in Game 3.

 

TCU's Friday night starter vs Texas -  freshman 6-foot-6 lefty starter Nick Lodolo - has a 4.39 ERA. But Lodolo's ERA is 1.29 in his last two appearances (wins vs Baylor and Texas Tech).

 

First-year Texas coach David Pierce, who has appeared in 16 straight NCAA regionals as an assistant coach (11) and head coach (5), is breaking routine for Game 1 Friday night and going with his usual Saturday starter - redshirt junior Morgan Cooper (6-2), who has a team-best 1.45 ERA (among UT's starting pitchers) for the season.

Cooper was named Big 12 pitcher of the Week for his 7-inning/2-hit/1-walk/11-strikeout performance in a 7-0 rout of Oklahoma State in Stillwater last weekend. 

 

Pierce said after Cooper and usual Friday starter Nolan Kingham (7-3, 2.05 ERA) both pitched in last weekend's Friday double-header at Oklahoma State, Cooper's recovery was a little faster.

 

That has raised questions about if Kingham, who is now scheduled to start on Saturday, is nursing an injury. But when asked about Kingham's condition, UT officials have simply reiterated he is slated to start Game 2.

UT is 4-1 in road starts by Kingham and just 1-3 in road starts by Cooper. But Texas' lone road win with Cooper starting came last weekend in Cooper's dominant showing at Oklahoma State.

In last year's Texas-TCU series in Austin, the 24th-ranked Longhorns won Games 1 and 2 vs TCU before dropping Game 3. 

Cooper started Game 1 of last year's TCU series and did not get the decision. After Texas took a 2-0 lead through three innings, Cooper ran into trouble in the fourth, walking two and giving up three earned runs on three hits, including a three-run homer by TCU catcher Evan Skoug. Travis Duke relieved Cooper and ultimately got the win as UT rallied for a 4-3 victory.

 

Even though Texas Tech is the highest-ranked Big 12 team nationally at No. 6 and just took 2 of 3 from TCU in Lubbock last weekend, the Horned Frogs are still in first place in the league standings at 12-6 (32-11 overall), just ahead of Tech (11-7, 37-12 overall).

Also notable, Texas probably helped TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle get a contract extension and raise after the Longhorns expressed interest in the TCU skipper (before ultimately hiring Pierce).

TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte confirmed the extension for Schlossnagle through 2020 on June 9 last year - a day before TCU began Super Regional play against Texas A&M (and a full 10 days before TCU began play in the CWS in Omaha).

Here are UT's game notes ...

 

No. 24 TEXAS (31-16, 9-8) at No. 9 TCU (32-11, 12-6)


Where
: Fort Worth, Texas (Lupton Stadium)
TimeFriday at 7 p.m.Saturday at 12 p.m.Sunday at 1 p.m.
TVFriday—ESPNU, Saturday—ESPN2, Sunday—ESPNU 

Radio: 104.9 FM The Horn/1260 AM—Craig Way (Play-by-Play), Roger Wallace (Analyst)
Live statsgofrogs.com
All-time series: Texas leads, 223-68-2
           

PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS


FRIDAY—TCU LHP Nick Lodolo (5-1, 4.39) vs. Texas RHP Morgan Cooper (6-2, 1.45)

SATURDAY—TCU RHP Brian Howard (6-3, 5.43) s. Texas RHP Nolan Kingham (7-3, 2.05)

SUNDAY—TCU RHP Mitchell Traver (2-1, 3.95) vs. Texas RHP Kyle Johnston (2-1, 3.29)

SERIES NOTES


THE MATCHUP—No. 24 Texas and No. 9 TCU meet in Fort Worth for the 294th time on Friday night at Lupton Stadium. 

A LOOK AT THE HORNED FROGS—TCU is coming off a Tuesday night win over Abilene Christian (a completion of a March contest)…the Horned Frogs lost two of three in Lubbock over the weekend to No. 6 Texas Tech…Austin Wade leads TCU with a .344 batting average, while Luken Baker has posted a .324 average to go along with eight homers…catcher Evan Skoug leads the team with nine long balls this season…on the mound, TCU is expected to be without ace Jared Janczak who is suffering from shoulder soreness…LHP Nick Lodolo is coming off his best outing of the season, an eight-inning gem against Texas Tech…Durbin Feltman leads the team with 11 saves on the year in 18 appearances while Sean Wymer has allowed just 6 ER over 33.1 innings in relief.

A LOOK AT THE LONGHORNS—Texas defeated UT Arlington, 4-1, on Tuesday night at home…over the weekend, the Longhorns rebounded after a loss to Louisiana to earn a doubleheader sweep last Friday at Oklahoma State…the pair of wins moved the Longhorns to 9-8 in Big 12 action…game three was washed out…Bret Boswell drove in 7 RBI in the doubleheader, two in game one and five in game two…his 5 RBI in game two came off a pair of homers, a two-run bomb in the second and a three-run shot in the third…Kacy Clemens leads the Longhorns with a .301 average, eight homers and 34 RBI…out of the bullpen, Beau Ridgeway has made 25 appearances and has amassed 10 saves and a 1.47 ERA…RHP Kyle Johnston will start as his scheduled Sunday start was canceled.

 

NEXT UP—Texas will have a week off due to finals before returning to UFCU Disch-Falk Field for a May 16 game vs. UIW.

 

PITCHER OF THE WEEK—Texas right-hander Morgan Cooper was named Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Week for this seven-inning, two-hit effort at Oklahoma State…the redshirt-junior was perfect through 3.2 innings of work…he struck out a career-high-tying 11 batters and walked just one…he lowered his ERA to a Big 12-best 1.45 and has a league-high 86 Ks. 

 

GOLDEN SPIKES—Texas RHPs Morgan Cooper and Nolan Kingham were both named to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, announced by USA Baseball on April 12…Cooper and Kingham have compiled 1.45 and 2.05 ERAs, respectively, so far this season and lead the Longhorns staff.…the duo is among 40 players selected to the watch list which honors the nation’s top amateur player… Texas is one of just six (Auburn, LSU, North Carolina, Oregon State, and Virginia) to land two athletes on the midseason watch list…the Longhorns have never had a Golden Spikes Award winner. 

 

STOPPER—Sophomore RHP Beau Ridgeway was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award Midseason Watch List on Wednesday afternoon…he now has 11 saves, becoming the first Longhorn since Corey Knebel in 2011 to record double-digit saves.

 

ONE-RUN WOES—With a 5-4 win in Friday’s game one,  the Longhorns improved to 7-11 in one-run ballgames, although six of those one-run losses have come in conference action.

 

TEAM ERA—The Longhorns pitching staff has compiled a 2.84 team ERA, good for eighth-best in the nation and best in the Big 12…the Longhorns have also registered seven shutouts on the season, most in the conference and tied for seventh-most  in the country.

 

DEEEEFENSE—The Longhorns’ defense has been sturdy so far this season…Texas is fielding at a .983 clip, good for fourth-best in the nation…the Horns have also turned 52 double plays, tied for the most in the country with SDSU.

 

SENIOR LEADER—Senior 1B Kacy Clemens has been a stalwart at first base for the Longhorns so far this season…he had reached base safely in 21 straight games before his ejection on April 9 vs. Oklahoma…he leads the team in BA (.302) and SLG (.528)…he hit his eighth homer of the season vs. UNO a season-high for the Houston native after he hit five last season…he is tops on the team with 35 RBI.

 

#MOREOFTHOSE—Through 47 games, nine different Longhorns have gone deep giving Texas 38 total homers, equaling the Longhorns’ total from all of last season…Travis Jones went deep on Tuesday…Bret Boswell stroked a pair of homers in game two on Friday at Oklahoma State…Patrick Mathis also homered in the game…Zane Gurwitz hit his second of the season in game one of Friday’s doubleheader, which cut the Longhorns’ deficit to one…freshman Ryan Reynolds is tied with Boswell for second-most on the team with five long balls while Kacy Clemens leads the squad with eight on the year. 

 

SNEAKY WHEELS CLUB—Michael McCann and Kacy Clemens have both added stolen bases to their respective resumes…combined, they’re a 12-for-13 on the basepaths, eight for Kacy and four for McCann.

 

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE—As a team, Texas has amassed 232 walks, good for 13th-most in the country…Travis Jones has walked 29 times, Kacy has walked 28 times and five other players have at least 20 BBs.

 

A NEW CHAPTER—February 17 marked David Pierce’s first game at the helm of the Texas Baseball program…Pierce was named head coach on June 29, 2016, making him just the fifth Longhorn head coach since 1911 (with the exception of the war years of 1943-45 when Blair Cherry was at the helm) and the 13th head coach in 122 years of Texas baseball…Pierce—along with assistant coach Sean Allen, assistant coach Philip Miller and volunteer coach Phil Haig—came to Texas after two years at Tulane and three years at Sam Houston State.

 

MILESTONES—Pierce’s first win with the program came on Saturday, February 18 over Rice in game one of the DH…on Wednesday night, Pierce collected his 200th career win, a 7-2 defeat of Sam Houston State, the program where Pierce first got his start as a collegiate head coach…he earned his first series win at Texas with a pair of victories vs. UCONN.

 

PRESEASON POLL—In the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll, Texas was selected to finish fourth behind preseason favorite TCU (64), Oklahoma State (54) and Texas Tech (48), all three of whom reached the College World Series last season…a different league team has won each of the past six Big 12 titles with Texas the last squad to repeat as regular season champions (‘09-11).

 

*****

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