FORT WORTH, Texas – Big 12 tournament champion TCU continues its’ roll through the post-season in similar fashion as the regular season, increasing to 32 one-run outings on the season and improving to 25-7 at Lupton Stadium, in taking the Fort Worth regional championship in three games. The Horned Frogs will host this Super Regional match-up with West Coast Conference champion Pepperdine.
TCU allowed four earned runs over the three games played in the Regional as the three-headed starting pitching monster of Brandon Finnegan, Preston Morrison and Tyler Alexander combined to pitch 23.2 innings while allowing three earned runs. The Horned Frog pitching staff posted a 0.64 ERA in the Regional. Boomer White had two extra-inning, game-winning hits in the with an 11th inning RBI single to beat Siena and a 22nd inning RBI single to beat Sam Houston State.
Pepperdine won the West Coast Conference regular season title and then went unbeaten to win the conference tournament and get the automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals where they played in the San Luis Obispo Regional hosted by Cal Poly. The Waves have been a solid road team at 17-9 on the season.
Pepperdine went 3-0 out in San Luis Obispo opening up with a 2-1 win over Pac 12 opponent Arizona State before facing tournament host Cal Poly and defeating them in two straight games to take the Regional. Aaron Brown allowed an unearned run over eight innings in the first win over Cal Poly while Bryan Langlois drove in five runs in the second win over the Mustangs.
NCAA Super Regional Preview – Fort Worth
The Horned Frogs are a pitching-led team with a staff ERA of 2.14 led by two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and Collegiate Baseball All-American Preston Morrison (9-3, 1.24 ERA, 79 K, 17 BB, .196 OBA) and Collegiate Baseball All-American Brandon Finnegan (8-3, 2.07 ERA, 122 K, 25 BB, .206 OBA) while the starting rotation is rounded out by Tyler Alexander (10-3, 1.94 ERA, 57 K, 11 BB, .224 OBA). Jordan Kipper (8-2, 3.01 ERA, 65 K, 14 BB, .235 OBA) has been the fourth starter with numbers that would be top starter on a lot of teams in the nation.
The bullpen has been bolstered by Trey Teakell (6-0, 2.26 ERA, 2 SV, 36 K, 13 BB, .214 OBA) and Alex Young (1-3, 2.61 ERA, 1 SV, 39 K, 15 BB, .255 OBA) who have each eaten up some innings in relief to setup up closer Riley Ferrell (1-1, 0.75 ERA, 14 SV, 58 K, 11 BB, .133 OBA) who is well able keep the leads handed to him by the pitching staff.
Boomer White is the leading hitter in the lineup and can be relied on in clutch situations to be the one who comes through hitting .328 with 47 runs and 45 RBI. Garrett Crain leads the team in hitting at .340, slugging at .436 and on base percentage at .423. Lead-off man Cody Jones leads with 49 runs and 27 steals. Kevin Cron is the power bat with four homers and a .147 isolated slugging percentage with 38 RBI.
The Waves are led on both sides of the ball by Collegiate Baseball All-American and Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist utility player Aaron Brown. Brown (12-1, 2.07 ERA, 100 K, 38 BB, .212 OBA) and Corey Miller (9-4, 1.75 ERA, 80 K, 29 BB, .229 OBA) are the top two starters for the Pepperdine rotation while Jackson McClelland (8-3, 3.53 ERA, 47 K, 19 BB, .266 OBA) got the third start in the Regional and Matt Maurer (4-3, 3.18 ERA, 43 K, 39 BB, .268 OBA) is another solid starter available.
The Waves tend to use a pair of relievers in setup roles with Chandler Blanchard (1-1, 1.17 ERA, 22 K, 11 BB, .202 OBA) being the crafty contact pitcher and A.J. Puckett (2-2, 3.23 ERA, 41 K, 22 BB, .223 OBA) being more of a strikeout guy. Eric Karch (4-1, 1.69 ERA, 15 SV, 22 K, 11 BB, .171 OBA) is the Waves’ closer leading with 28 pen appearances on the year.
Brown also leads the way for Pepperdine at the plate with a .301 average, 43 runs, 47 RBI, 12 home runs and a .539 slugging percentage. Collegiate Baseball All-American Hutton Moyer is hitting .311 with 49 RBI and 15 steals while Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American Aaron Burnett leads the team with a .373 average and 79 hits. Pepperdine averages just shy of 5.5 runs a game.
TCU plays well at home and has the better pitching in the match-up. Aaron Brown had a quiet bat in the Super Regionals and I’m concerned about whether he will be able to get on track against the Horned Frogs’ staff. I think TCU takes this one in two.
Game one will be playing Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM central with game two on Sunday at 5:00 PM and if necessary game three will be played Monday night at 6:00 PM.