Baseball Preview: TCU Horned Frogs (0-3)

Baseball Preview: TCU Horned Frogs (0-3)

Cal State Fullerton got the 2013 season started off on the right foot by winning all four games last weekend, which was the first time that the Titans have come out of the blocks over .500 after the opening weekend since 2008.

Fullerton won the opener against USC 3-2 in a pitchers' duel, saw the bats wake up when they swept a doubleheader from Nebraska 10-5 and 9-0 and finished things off on the road with an 8-2 win at Cal State Bakersfield.

Thomas Eshelman was the first FR to start the opening game of the season for the Titans since 1987 and he had a strong outing in picking up the win, retiring the first fourteen USC batters and allowing two unearned runs on four hits and no walks with six strikeouts in six innings.  Fullerton scored in the first when Richy Pedroza singled, Carlos Lopez doubled him to third and Matt Chapman hit a SF.  After USC scored two runs on an error and an HR in the top of the sixth, the Titans regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when Chapman singled, J.D. Davis walked, Michael Lorenzen's bunt single loaded the bases, Chad Wallach tied the game with an RBI single and Lorenzen beat the throw home on Matt Orloff's squeeze bunt to give Fullerton the lead for good.  Reliever Willie Kuhl retired all six batters he faced and Lorenzen finished things off with a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Fullerton took the lead in the first game of the DH with Nebraska in the second when Lorenzen was hit by a pitch and stole second, Orloff walked and Jared Deacon and Pedroza followed with RBI singles.  After the Cornhuskers scored in the top of the fourth, Lorenzen hit the Titans first HR of the season to give them a 3-1 lead.  After Nebraska tied the game in the top of the sixth, Fullerton took a 4-3 lead when Lorenzen reached base on an error, stole second and Deacon drove him in with another RBI single.  The Cornhuskers regained the lead with two runs in the top of the seventh but the Titans had another comeback in them in the bottom of the inning when Chapman singled and advanced to second on an error, Davis singled him in to tie the game and pinch-hitter Anthony Hutting launched a two-run HR to give Fullerton the lead for good.  Fullerton put the game away with three runs in the eighth when Deacon and Lopez singled, Chapman doubled in a run and Davis singled in two more.  Grahamm Wiest threw six effective innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and no walks with seven strikeouts, Nebraska native Tyler Peitzmeier picked up the win with a scoreless inning and Davis and Michael Lopez finished off the game throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

Fullerton scored two runs in the first inning of the nightcap when Pedroza and Lopez singled, Chapman walked and Davis followed with a two RBI single and those would be the only runs that FR Justin Garza would need in his debut as he throttled a good Nebraska lineup over six shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk with six strikeouts.  Fellow FR Joe Navilhon, Henry Omana and Bryan Conant each followed with a scoreless inning apiece in their debuts to finish off the shutout.  The Titans put the game away with three runs in the third on a run scoring wild pitch, a Lorenzen RBI single and a Wallach RBI double, two runs in the fifth on an RBI single by Wallach and two runs in the seventh on RBI walks by Chapman and FR Tanner Pinkston in the first time at the plate in his career.

Fullerton finished off the sweep of their four game weekend in their first game ever against Cal State Bakersfield with a record setting crowd on hand hoping to see their Roadrunners pull off the upset.  The Titans got off to a fast start in the first when Chapman singled with two outs and Davis followed by crushing a ball to CF for a two run HR.  Fullerton scratched out another run in the third when Austin Diemer singled and went to second on a WP, Pedroza bunted him over to third and Lopez drove him in with a SF.  The Titans put the game away in the fifth when Diemer, Lopez and Chapman walked and Davis drove them all in with a grand slam just out of the CF's reach.  All of those runs were more than enough for Koby Gauna, who threw seven scoreless innings before tiring in the eighth to end up allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts.  Kuhl finished things off with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Davis earned Big West player of the week honors after going 7-16 with two HR's and 11 RBI and other players who stood out were Lopez (6-14, 1 RBI, 3 SB's), Chapman (5-12, 3 RBI), Lorenzen (5-15, HR, 2 RBI, 3 SB's) and Wallach (4-12, 5 RBI).  The four starting pitchers combined to go 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA over 25 2/3 IP, allowing 21 hits and only one walk with 24 strikeouts.  The relievers had a 1.74 ERA over 10 1/3 IP, allowing 8 hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts.

Fullerton will continue playing on the road with a midweek game on Wednesday at Pepperdine followed by a series this weekend against a familiar opponent, the TCU Horned Frogs.  The Titans have played TCU in each of the last five seasons and after the teams split the first four series with the road team winning every series, Fullerton finally broke through at home with a series win in 2012 with the series deciding game a wild 11-10 slugfest that was halted after eight innings due to a travel curfew for TCU's flight back to the Dallas area.  The Horned Frogs season got off to a tough start when they traveled down to #13 Ole Miss last weekend and were swept by the Rebels as they scored only four runs in the series in losing games 1-0, 5-2 and 5-2.   TCU's starters pitched very well in the first two games but the bullpen faltered in the second game and Ole Miss hit a grand slam in the first inning of the final game to finish things off early.


TCU Horned Frogs (0-3)

  • 2012 Overall Record – 40-22
  • 2012 Conference Record – 18-6 (Tied for 1st in the Mountain West) 
  • 2012 Post-Season – Won College Station Regional (Loss vs. Ole Miss, Wins vs. Dayton, Texas A&M and Ole Miss twice).  Lost both games at UCLA Super Regional.   
  • 2012 RPI/ISR – 33/24
  • Pre-season ranking  – 8th by Easton College Baseball, 12th by USA Today/Coaches Poll, 13th by NCBWA, 14th by Baseball America, 14th by Perfect Game and 15th by Collegiate Baseball
  • Predicted conference finish – 2nd by the Big XII coaches, 1st by Baseball America, Perfect Game and Easton College Baseball today


2012 Summary and 2013 Preview

TCU has appeared in regionals in each of the nine seasons that Jim Schlossnagle has been coaching in Fort Worth and the Horned Frogs have become a national power over the last four seasons after appearing in three Super Regionals and making a trip to Omaha in 2010 and expectations are high once again this season with TCU ranked in the top fifteen in every pre-season poll and looking to make their mark in their first season in the Big XII.

The Horned Frogs went into last season looking to make amends for not advancing out of a regional for the first time since 2008 with a much more youthful roster than they had in 2011 and after getting off to a slow start at 2-6 due to the injury bug biting like it also did the previous season, they got hot and went on a nine game winning streak.  TCU went on another skid where they went 3-7 before getting red hot and going 21-4 to finish off the regular season.  The Horned Frogs pitching faltered in the MWC tournament at UNLV where they allowed 32 runs in losing two out of three games and after losing their first game to Ole Miss at the Texas A&M regional, their bats got red hot and they scored forty runs and hit nine HR's over the next four games to win the regional.  TCU traveled out to the west coast for their super regional at UCLA but their bats were cooled off by the Bruins strong pitching staff and the Horned Frogs were swept in two games after scoring only three runs.

Unlike last season when TCU was breaking in a bunch of new pitchers and infielders, they will be much more experienced with plenty of pitchers and infielders returning with the main spots that need to be filled in the outfield and behind the plate.  The Horned Frogs once again have brought in a top twenty recruiting class that has been bolstered by some talented FR arms and they have gone to the JC route to fill in the gaps in the lineup.

TCU had one of the best offenses in the country in 2010 and 2011, ranking in the top thirty nationally in scoring, HR, AVG and SLG despite playing in a park that favors pitchers but they weren't nearly as proficient last season.  The Horned Frogs scored a run less per game, hit only 26 HR's in the regular season after hitting 50 in 2011, hit 35 points less and saw their SLG % fall by 75 points.  TCU has responded to their power outage by moving the fences in at their ballpark by ten feet in most places to help them generate more offense.  The Horned Frogs are usually a patient team at the plate, working counts and taking pitches and squaring up the pitch they want and driving it.  TCU doesn't mind playing little ball by bunting and moving runners and that helped them to create more runs than they probably should have due to their decline in most hitting categories.

TCU has traditionally had strong pitching staffs and this year doesn't figure to be an exception with all four of their starters and seven of the nine pitchers returning who threw at least twenty innings in 2012.  The Horned Frogs have several All-Big XII and All-American candidates and an interesting aspect to this series is former Fullerton All-American and pitching coach Kirk Saarloos taking over as the pitching coach in Fort Worth over the summer.

TCU has gotten off to a very slow start at the plate after having issues on offense for most of 2012.  The Horned Frogs were held to four runs at Ole Miss and only hit .194 with a .269 SLG % last weekend.  TCU did show quite a bit of patience at the plate by drawing 14 walks but they also had trouble making contact with 24 strikeouts in the series.  The Horned Frogs put down a couple of SAC bunts in last Friday's 1-0 game and were 0-2 on SB attempts in the series.

TCU is expected to have an excellent pitching staff and their starters in the first two games of the Ole Miss series allowed 3 R (2 ER) in 13 IP but the Horned Frogs offense didn't do them any favors and the bullpen faltered in the second game, blowing a 2-1 lead when the relievers allowed four runs in the eighth.  Things got away early in the final game on a grand slam by Ole Miss in the first inning but the bullpen pitched well in allowing only one run over the final seven frames.  TCU held the Rebels to a .202 AVG in the series and they had a solid 24/8 K/BB ratio.


Offense

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 80 from 2008-2011 (decreased offense by 20%), 75 from 2007-2010 (decreased offense by 25%).  TCU's strong pitching staff has helped to cut down the scoring significantly along with winds that usually blow straight in from the plains.  However, TCU has taken measures to help the hitters by moving the fences in.  The old dimensions were 330-389-400-382-330 and now they are 325-375-390-370-320.
  • Batting Average – .271 (4th in the Mountain West, 175th in the NCAA)
  • Runs Per Game – 5.8 (3/89)
  • Home Runs – 39 (2/49) – 26 in the regular season, 13 in the post-season
  • Stolen Bases – 63 (2/105)
  • Slugging Percentage – .389 (3/107)
  • Walks – 235 (1/56)
  • Strikeouts – 374 (2/xx)
  • HBP's – 59 (2/124)
  • Sac Bunts – 42 (2/149)


Lineup

Infield

TCU had a very inexperienced infield going into last season with their C as the only returning starter until their 3B came back from an injury in late March.  It is a much different story this season with returning starters at all four infield spots with the Horned Frogs breaking in a JC transfer as the new starter behind the plate.

C – JC transfer #6 Kyle Bacak (RH) has emerged from the pack as the primary catcher to take over for two year starter Josh Elander.  Schlossnagle has praised Bacak for his defensive work behind the plate during fall ball and practices leading into the season.  His glove is further ahead than his bat and Bacak hit ninth in all three games at Ole Miss and went 1-7 with a walk.

1B – Soph #00 Kevin Cron (RH – .338/.383/.503, 6-34-0) is huge at 6'5", 245 lbs and crushed the Arizona HS record for HR's with 59, including 27 in his SR year, and was a third round pick out of HS. He missed time with back injuries and got off to a slow start in 2012 but got hot during the MWC schedule when he hit .373.  Cron was expected to hit for more power but due to his back issues he only hit three HR's in the regular season before finding his power stroke in the regional at Texas A&M where he helped carry the offense with three HR's on his way to earning all-regional honors.  He was a second team FR All-American and big things are expected of him this season and he is in much better shape after losing 20 lbs.  Cron missed the series in 2012 at Fullerton due to his back issues.  He had a hit in each game at Ole Miss while hitting third and went 3-10 with two walks and a double.

2B – Soph #5 Derek Odell (LH – .276/.339/.420, 4-26-6) stepped into some pretty big shoes as the replacement for three year starter and two time 1st team All-MWC 2B Taylor Featherston and did a solid job at the plate and in the field.  He has good pop for a middle infielder and can pull a pitch and drive it, like he did on his HR at Fullerton last season.  Odell had a decent 16/26 BB/K ratio and figures to be close to even in that area as he gains more experience.  He has above average speed and will steal occasionally.  Odell was an all-regional selection after getting seven hits and hitting 2 HR's in TCU's four wins.  He was 3-13 with an HR and 2 RBI at Fullerton in 2012.  Odell went 1-10 at Ole Miss but did drive in three of their four runs and walked three times.  He hit second in the first two games and cleanup on Sunday.

SS – Soph #26 Keaton Jones (RH – .166/.283/.189, 0-17-7) struggled tremendously at the plate as a FR but the coaching staff kept him in the lineup for his defense.  He only had four extra base hits in over 150 AB's and accounted for more than 1/3 of the team's SAC's and easily led the team with fifteen.  Jones walked a decent amount of times (23) but he was often overmatched at the plate and struck out 45 times.  He put in a great deal of work in the off-season and put on 20 lbs of muscle, which figures to help him get stronger to be more competitive at the plate.  Jones was 1-8 at Fullerton in 2012.  He hit eighth in all three games at Ole Miss and was 1-6 with a walk.

3B – SR #35 Janzen Witte (RH – .315/.374/.444, 3-22-1.  '11 – .331/.400/.469, 4-31-7. '10 – .374/.425/.552, 4-39-2) was 1st team All-MWC in 2011 and 2nd team All-MWC last season after missing the first 18 games due to off-season hip surgery.  He got off to a slow start while working on getting his timing down but once the conference season rolled around, he was red hot and led the team with a .378 AVG in MWC games.  Witte has solid gap to gap power and isn't much of a threat on the bases.   He has only played once against Fullerton in his career due to injuries and went 4-12 with 3 RBI in the 2011 series.  Witte was one of the few guys who did any hitting at Ole Miss and went 4-10 with a solo HR, two doubles and two walks and looks poised to have a big SR season now that he is finally healthy.

SR #3 Davy Wright (RH – .239/.362/.308, 0-7-0.  '11 – 2-16.  '10 – .195 in 41 AB's), SR #4 Josh Gonzales (RH – .250 in 60 AB's) and JC transfer #24 Paul Hendrix (RH) are the infield reserves.  Wright started 30 games at 3B in 2012 due to Witte's injuries and can also play 2B.  Gonzales is the backup at 2B and SS.  Wright went 4-10 with an RBI at Fullerton in 2012.  Wright had a SAC in his only AB at Ole Miss, Gonzales was 0-1 and Hendrix subbed for Jones at SS early in Sunday's game and went 0-2 with a BB.

Outfield

TCU had a very experienced OF last season with all three starters having several years of experience but Jason Coats, Kyle VonTungeln and Brance Rivera have all moved on so the Horned Frogs will be relying on part-time players and JC transfers to take over.

CF – JC transfer #1 Cody Jones (Both) figures to see most of the playing time in CF and is the fastest runner on the team with plus speed.  It will be his job as the leadoff hitter to hit the ball on the ground and spray it around the field to use his legs to create offense.  Jones is a definite threat to run whenever he is on base.  He went 2-11 with a double and two walks at Ole Miss.

LF/RF – JC transfers #38 Dylan Fitzgerald (LH), #47 Kevin Daniels (LH) and FR #13 Travis Hennessey (LH) are all battling for playing time and whoever gets the hot hand figures to win the job.  Fitzgerald started the first two games in RF at Ole Miss and went 0-6 while hitting seventh.  Daniels pinch-hit in each of the first two games and started in LF on Sunday and went 1-4.  Hennessey went 2-3 off of the bench in the last two games at Ole Miss.

LF/RF – JR #7 Brett Johnson (LH – .228/.322/.327, 1-10-2.  '11 – .286/.384/.429, 2-12-0) started out his career as an infielder and often played 1B last season while Cron was out due to his back issues but he is getting his shot to be a regular as an OF.  It is important for Johnson to hit well to help balance out the lineup because he is one of the few experienced LH hitters who figures to see much playing time.  He hit fifth and played LF in the first two games at Ole Miss, hit sixth and played in RF on Sunday and went 2-11 with a walk on the weekend.

DH – Soph #31 Jerrick Suiter (RH – .310/.375/.379, 0-20-4) has the best OF arm and also pitched as a FR but is having shoulder issues that will prevent him from playing in the OF for the first part of season and he will not pitch this year.  He only hit .255 in the regular season as a FR but got scorching hot in the post-season when he went 18-39.  Suiter is a big guy who can drive the ball and figures to be more productive with regular playing time.  He went 2-5 with a game winning two run triple at Fullerton in 2012.  Suiter hit sixth in the first two games and fifth on Sunday at Ole Miss and went 0-9 with a walk.


Defense

Fielding % – .966 (3/148), 84 errors.  TCU's defense figures to be improved with Bacak better defensively than Elander and Witte finally healthy because Elander and Wright combined to make 20 errors.  Odell, Jones and Witte are standouts defensively and Bacak has the potential to be.  Cron is below average at 1B and losing weight can only help him move around better.  Jones will cover lots of ground in CF and the corner OF's are average.  TCU made three errors last weekend and one of them was a costly one by Odell in the four run eighth inning rally by Ole Miss last Saturday.

Stolen Base Attempts – 45-67.  Teams ran often on Elander so it will be interesting to see how much improvement there will be with Bacak behind the plate but Ole Miss runners were 5-5 on SB attempts.

WP's/PB's Allowed – 54.  Elander was below average at blocking pitches so they should also see improvement in this area but Bacak had a rough debut and his PB helped Ole Miss score the only run in Friday's game and he allowed a WP in each of the next two games along with another PB on Sunday.


Pitching

  • ERA – 3.35 (1st in the MWC/42nd nationally)
  • BA – .243 (1/xx)
  • HR – 18 (1/xx)
  • H's/9 IP – 8.2 (1/31)
  • BB's/9 IP – 3.0 (2/55)
  • K's/9 IP – 7.2 (2/71)
  • WHIP – 1.24 (1/34)

Starters

Much like with the infield and the outfield, the starting rotation for TCU is another area that is the complete opposite of where things stood going into 2012.  The Horned Frogs returned only one starter from 2011 after losing three veteran SP's but this season they return all of their starters and have converted one of them into being the closer.

FRI – Soph #18 Preston Morrison (RHP – 9-2, 2.08 ERA, 1 save, 22 apps, 11 GS, 113 IP, 88 H, 12 BB, 72 K, .216 AVG, 2 HR, 8 HBP, 0 WP, 2-5 SB) throws from a low three-quarters arm slot that makes him very tough on RH hitters.  He is a strike thrower (#4 nationally in WHIP as a FR) with an upper 80's fastball, a solid changeup and slider and a power sinker that he uses to get batters to pound the ball into the ground.  Morrison pitched out of the bullpen as a FR and had a 1.18 ERA in 39 IP before making his first start in the first weekend of April and he was nearly as dominant as a starter and allowed two runs or less in eight of his eleven starts on the way to winning MWC Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year honors and he was also a FR All-American.  Expectations are very high for Morrison and he has made several pre-season All-American lists.  He picked up TCU's win at Fullerton in 2012 when he threw three scoreless innings.  Morrison pitched six innings at Ole Miss and was the tough luck loser after he allowed one unearned run on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

SAT – Soph #29 Brandon Finnegan (LHP – 4-5, 3.47 ERA, 23 apps, 11 GS, 62 IP, 51 H, 30 BB, 56 K, .227 AVG, 0 HR, 11 HBP, 3 WP, 7-9 SB) was the midweek starter and a reliever on the weekends as a FR but has been moved into the weekend rotation and will split up the two RHP's.  He was usually limited to throwing 4-5 innings in midweek games to keep him available for weekend series.  Finnegan was usually very effective and had a 2.66 ERA except for one bad outing against a potent New Mexico lineup when he allowed 6 R on 8 H in 1 1/3 IP at the Lobos launching pad of a ballpark.  He came through in a big way in the regional against Ole Miss when he held them to 2 R in 7 1/3 IP to force a winner take all game.  Finnegan has the best arm of the SP's with a low 90's fastball along with a slider and changeup but he needs to work on his control after allowing 41 runners to get on base by BB or HBP in 62 IP.   He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a relief appearance at Fullerton.  Finnegan is throwing from a lower arm slot and that has helped his command and he threw seven innings at Ole Miss, allowing two runs on only two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.

SUN – JR RHP #28 Stefan Crichton (RHP – 9-2, 3.41 ERA, 19 apps, 16 GS, 1 CG, 95 IP, 103 H, 18 BB, 53 K, .277 AVG, 4 HR, 11 HBP, 4 WP, 6-8 SB.  '11 – 6-3, 1.98 ERA, 26 apps, 5 saves, 2 GS, 50 IP, 38 H, 10 BB, 42 K, .208 AVG, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 WP, 3-4 SB) figures to profile best as the Sunday starter because he doesn't have the pure stuff that the two Soph's have but he has excellent control of his upper 80's fastball along with a changeup and a sinker that has allowed him to give up only 5 HR's in almost 150 IP.  Crichton was All-MWC 2nd team after being among the conference leaders in wins and he was selected to the All-Regional team after his complete game win against Texas A&M eliminated the hosts. He struggled in his start in 2012 at Fullerton and allowed 2 R on 4 H and 4 BB in 4 2/3 IP.  Crichton wasn't sharp at Ole Miss and was taken out after only one inning, allowing four runs on a grand slam.

Midweek – JC transfer #10 Trevor Seidenberger (LHP) figures to be getting the ball on Tuesdays and has a tough delivery for hitters to pick up the ball and has an upper 80's fastball with a very good sweeping curve and changeup.  He threw three effective innings of relief at Ole Miss, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  If he continues to pitch well he could end up pushing Crichton for a starting spot on the weekends because Crichton has a rubber arm where he could start in midweek games and be available for spot duty in relief on the weekends.

Relievers

TCU had a very deep and experienced bullpen in 2012 with four relievers making at least seventeen appearances along with Finnegan pitching in relief most of the time in weekend series.  The Horned Frogs had three pitchers combine for thirteen of their saves but two of them (who each had five saves) have moved on and TCU has moved one of their weekend SP's into the closer role.  The Horned Frogs have several big arms in their FR class and those pitchers will be looked on to provide depth.

FRI – JR #34 Andrew Mitchell (RHP – 5-3, 3.74 ERA, 16 GS, 77 IP, 55 H, 46 BB, 101 K, .198 AVG, 6 HR, 10 HBP, 9 WP, 9-14 SB.  '11 – 6-1, 2.84 ERA, 22 apps, 2 saves, 10 GS, 76 IP, 52 H, 31 BB, 73 K, .197 AVG, 5 HR, 5 HBP, 6 WP, 5-5 SB) got off to a great start as a FR and allowed only one run in his first 23 IP and ended the year in strong fashion by starting the first game of the regional and shutting out Oral Roberts for seven innings, allowing only two hits and one walk.  He was a FR All-American and a standout reliever for Team USA during the summer in 2011.  Mitchell is the hardest thrower on the pitching staff with a mid 90's fastball and a power curveball and is working on a changeup but he is prone to having control issues, which is why he is being converted to a closer where he can be more of a max effort thrower for 1-2 innings.  His control allowed him to go longer than three innings in only three of his starts in 2012 but he was usually very effective for 5-6 innings, finishing #5 nationally in K/IP and was 1st team All-MWC with a 2.11 ERA in conference games.  Mitchell has been very tough against Fullerton and in two appearances against the Titans he has allowed only one run on three hits in ten innings with six walks and fourteen strikeouts, including twelve in a memorable five inning start at Fullerton when he had his curveball falling off of the table and had the Titans flailing away at it.  His first shot at being the closer didn't go well at Ole Miss when he came into a tie game with two outs in the eighth last Saturday and he allowed the go ahead run and two more runs to score on a walk and two singles before finally getting out of the inning.

SR #20 Justin Scharf (RHP – 4-2, 3.23 ERA, 4 saves, 38 apps, 47 IP, 49 H, 14 BB, 30 K, .274 AVG, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 3 WP, 0-1 SB) is a sidearmer who doesn't throw hard, is able to pitch often, led the team in appearances in 2012 and will be the main set-up guy for Mitchell.  He was the MVP of the regional at Texas A&M with two wins and a save in relief.  Scharf took the loss last Saturday at Ole Miss when he allowed the runner he inherited to tie the game on a two out single and that runner scored after Mitchell came in.  He also took the loss in the Saturday game last season at Fullerton when he allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in 1 2/3 IP.

Two FR that TCU is very high on are #23 Alex Young (LHP) and #12 Riley Ferrell (RHP).  Young was rated in the top 150 and Ferrell in the top 500 nationally by Baseball America going into the draft in June.  Young has a low 90's fastball and is developing control of his curveball and changeup.  He was thrown right into the fire last Friday at Ole Miss in a 1-0 game and retired all six batters he faced.  Ferrell has a live arm with a 92-94 fastball and a wipeout slider.  He threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings last Sunday at Ole Miss, allowing two hits and a walk with one strikeout.

Veterans who figure to see innings in middle relief are JR #25 Nick Frey (RHP – 0-1, 5.24 ERA, 9 apps, 2 GS, 22 IP, 31 H, 10 BB, 13 K, .333 AVG, 1 HR, 7 HBP, 3 WP, 7-9 SB.  '11 – 1-0, 3.45 ERA, 10 apps, 4 GS, 29 IP, 32 H, 4 BB, 18 K, .288 AVG, 2 HR, 9 HBP, 1 WP, 0-2 SB), Soph #40 Trey Teakell (RHP – 1-2, 4.70 ERA, 19 apps, 3 GS, 46 IP, 52 H, 10 BB, 25 K, .286 AVG, 3 HR, 7 HBP, 2 WP, 5-7 SB) and Soph #11 Travis Evans (LHP – 0-1, 4.05 ERA, 7 apps, 7 IP).  Frey allowed three unearned runs on four hits in three IP in his appearance at Fullerton in 2012 and didn't pitch after early April due to an injury but is healthy and threw a scoreless inning at Ole Miss.  Evans retired both batters he faced at Ole Miss.  Teakell easily had his worst outing of the season in 2012 at Fullerton when he allowed eight runs on eight hits in three innings as the starter in the slugfest that decided the series.


Outlook

Fullerton played very well last weekend in sweeping a decent group of teams.  The Titans hit .313, averaged 7.5 runs per game, averaged six walks per game, hit four HR's and stole eight bases.  Fullerton pitched well with a 1.75 ERA and a stellar 36/2 K/BB ratio.  The Titans were also solid in the field with a .973 FLD% and Pedroza made a couple of outstanding plays on Friday night to help Fullerton keep their one run lead.

TCU pitched well enough last weekend for the most part with a 3.38 ERA but a couple of big innings did them in on Saturday and Sunday and they didn't do nearly enough on offense to make up for it despite walking almost five times a game by hitting under .200 for the weekend. The Horned Frogs also had their issues on defense with three errors, four WP's/PB's and allowed five SB's.

The series over the last years has featured plenty of low scoring pitchers duels with scores of 4-1, 8-4 (3-3 after eight innings) and 2-1 in 2011 at TCU and 3-2 and 4-2 games at Fullerton last season before the 11-10 slugfest.  With the pitching staffs that both of these teams have, it wouldn't be much of a surprise for runs to be at a premium again this weekend.

This figures to be a close series with TCU looking to get some momentum going after being swept for only the third time in Schlossnagle's ten seasons in Fort Worth.  Fullerton doesn't usually have the better offense when these teams are matched up but it looks like the Titans could this season.  If Fullerton's young pitchers can keep their poise in a tough road environment and continue to throw well and their veteran lineup can continue to grind out AB's and put runs on the board the Titans have a solid chance of coming out of Lupton Stadium with a series win for third time in three trips to Fort Worth.

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