(Photo Credit: Associated Press)
In the top of the sixth inning, the TCU baseball team trailed the Dayton Flyers 9-6 and had only a mere twelve outs standing between them and losing five straight, ending their season. That’s about as dramatic, back-against-the-wall a situation can get. And what did the Frogs do? Exactly what they haven’t all season – relaxed, stayed patient at the plate, and watched the runs flow like a waterfall. Since that sixth inning, the Frogs have played with a calm and reserve they have been incapable of tapping into for the whole of this season. At one point, there was a stretch of 13 innings where the Frogs outscored their opponents 32-5, per @tcusid. They were down in every game they played this weekend, and came back to win four of them in a row, playing the last innings placidly, not batting an eye. They quietly disposed of A&M, and then just dismantled Ole Miss to win the regional.
Their maturity at the plate is astonishing, as the majority of their team and offensive production this end of season stretch has come from freshmen, but it helps that Brance and the older players remembered who they are. I have no idea what happened to Brance, but some proverbial WD-40 on the gears has fired him back up again, peaking at the perfect time this season. The Frogs are playing great ball, the best we’ve seen all season, and with the veterans there to bolster the blazing freshmen, the Frogs are going to be hard to beat. As long as Derek Odell stops making errors. Scratch that – also long as he keeps his Error to Home Run ration at 1:1.
Before I make some picks, let’s take a 30,000 foot view at the UCLA Bruins, who the Frogs face in the Super Regional for a three game series this weekend. UCLA is 45-14 on the season, the PAC 10/12/Whatever regular season champs. This is the Bruins’ third Super Regional appearance in six seasons. They are led by manager John Savage (ok not that guy). Savage has been at UCLA for 8 years, and the Bruins have been in the postseason for six of them. He matches Schlossnagle pound for pound in experience. The Bruins play in Jackie Robinson Stadium, which has no bearing on the matchup other than it’s a pretty cool name for any baseball facility, especially what with the whole Dodgers-being-in-LA-now ordeal.
The Bruins overpower the Frogs in batting average, .310 to .268, but despite the reputation their pitching staff has nationwide, their 3.28 team ERA is higher than TCU (.317). In the Super Regional, UCLA was dominant, outscoring their three opponents (Creighton 2x and New Mexico State) 23-6 in three games. The Bruins actually gave up more hits in their third game (12) than they did in their first two combined (4). They are led by Junior OF Jeff Gelalich, who has 50 runs scored this season, and, wait for it… a .998 OPS. He’s also batting .372. So he’s pretty good. Also, on the Bruin pitching staff is sophomore Adam Plutko, who has 2.56 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 105.2 innings over 16 games. He essentially guarantees 6 innings a game, on average, and their bullpen is beyond fierce. The relief trio of Ryan Deeter, David Berg, and Scott Griggs have 115 appearances between them, and Deeter and Berg both have ERAs below 2.oo. The Frogs are going to have to score runs early, as a late comeback just doesn’t happen against UCLA. These guys are lights out.
We’ll do nationwide picks, then talk more about the Frogs. Last week I was 8-8, a .500 record, which I consider marginally respectable. Here’s the Super Regional:
- In Gainesville, Florida takes care of NC State in two games. All business here.
- South Carolina will advance over a scrappy Oklahoma team, conceding the second game.
- Kent State rolled through an easy regional, but so did Oregon. Golden Flashes in three. Because we like the little guy here at DSR.
- Arkansas over Baylor in Waco. Again, all business. Two games.
- Florida State and Stanford is a series I’m excited to watch. I’ll pick the Cardinal here, in three tough games.
- Arizona is rolling, and St. John’s can’t keep that pace for three games. ‘Cats lose game one, close, win it on Sunday.
- As much as everything in me wants Stony Brook to beat LSU, it probably won’t happen. But I’m going to pick the upset. Stony Brook rallies late on Sunday, stuns the Tigers.
- Last, but not least: UCLA v TCU. I think the Frogs will win game one here. They have serious momentum. We can attribute the game two hold-your-ground win to UCLA. So it comes down to Sunday, again. Honestly, the Frogs play best when they’re on the hot seat, and I think they can squeeze by UCLA. It won’t be easy, and it sure as heck won’t be pretty, but if they keep pace with this weekend, they can hang with anyone. The key is to stay relaxed. With all these young guys, it would be very easy to get caught up in the moment, and to freeze. If Schloss can calm the boys down, the Frogs should advance. Officially, TCU 2-1 in a nailbiter.
Well, just like last time, bet against all of these, and hopefully you can win some money. Leave your picks below if you think you can do better. Follow @TheDSportsRant for general updates, and look to @spfleming for my live tweeting of the games.