TCU CAPTURES HOUSTON COLLEGE CLASSIC
After three straight trips to the College World Series, the TCU entered the 2017 season as the team to beat in college baseball this season.
After a 10-1 start, which includes three wins over #3 LSU, #15 Texas A&M and #8 Ole Miss at the Houston College Classic this past weekend at Minute Maid Park, the Horned Frogs may have widened the gap with the rest of the college baseball field.
TCU posted come-from behind wins over LSU and Texas A&M and the held off Ole Miss on Sunday to complete the sweep against a trio of SEC powers.
Trailing 4-1 after one inning, TCU roughed up LSU ace Alex Lange in route to a 9-6 win on Friday. The Frogs chased Lange after 1.2 innings. Austen Wade clubbed a 3-run home run and Luken Baker added a solo shot in the five-run second inning.
TCU then posted an improbable 11-10 win in 15 innings against the Aggies on Saturday. The Horned Frogs scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the got a walk-off double from Ryan Merrill to cap the nearly six-hour game. Not lost in the win over the Aggies was the strength of the TCU bullpen. Jake Essler came into the game in the second inning and slowed the Aggies down. He allowed two runs and 4.1 innings but recorded eight strikeouts. Sean Wymer gave the Frogs five perfect innings with nine strikeouts. TCU eliminated Texas A&M from the NCAA Super Regionals each of the last two years.
TCU scored three runs in the second inning and extended its lead to 5-0 over Ole Miss on Sunday. The Rebels scored three runs in the eighth inning but a taxed bullpen got the final four outs to complete the classic.
Baker was named the Houston College Classic Most Valuable Player and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts against the SEC powers. He batted .455 (5-for-11) with six runs scored, one double, one triple, one home run and three RBIs. He also walked four times.
Evan Skoug (.429, 3 R, RBI), Nolan Brown (.308, 4 R, 1 RBI) and Wyner (5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 9 K) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
TCU has won 10 of its first 11 games against some pretty stout completion. In addition to LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, TCU also has a series win over Arizona State and a midweek win over Rice. The Horned Frogs host Dallas Baptist tonight and then make a four-game swing through California with a weekend series at UC Irvine (March 10-12) and Long Beach State (March 14) before opening Big 12 play with Kansas on March 17-19.
BIG 12 DOMINATES IN HOUSTON: TCU was not the only Big 12 team making headlines at the Houston College Classic last weekend. The Big 12 posted a 7-2 record against the SEC in the three-day event. In addition to TCU’s success, Baylor and Texas Tech both won two games. Baylor shutout Ole Miss 4-0 in the tourney opener on Friday before losing 4-0 to LSU on Saturday. The Bears capped the event with a 6-3 win over Texas A&M in the final game of the weekend. Tucker Cascadden belted a walk-off, grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Bears the dramatic win. Cascadden, a JuCo transfer, was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and the All-Tournament Team after going 3-for-8 (.375) with one double, one home run and five RBIs. After being clobbered 9-0 in its first game against Texas A&M, Texas Tech rebounded with wins over Ole Miss and LSU to finish 2-1 at the tournament. Junior outfielder Tanner Gardner delivered the walk-off single in the Red Raiders 5-4 win over LSU on Sunday.
DARTMOUTH ROCKS THE HURRICANES: Dartmouth won a series a Miami this past weekend, its first series win over a Top 25 team. The Big Green posted a 1-0 win in the series opener on Friday at Mark Light Stadium and then posted a series-clinching 5-0 win on Sunday. Dartmouth held Miami to three runs in the three-game series. Miami’s lone win was a 3-2 victory on Saturday, where the tying and winning run scored on consecutive balks in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Dartmouth hasn’t won the Ivy League since 2010, when it made the second of back-to-back appearances in NCAA regionals. Miami has gone to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1973.
Whalen has sent three players to the majors since 1990, most notably Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the World Series Game 7 starter last fall and major league ERA leader in 2016. Miami coach Jim Morris has developed 27 big-leaguers since 1994.
The Hurricanes won 50 games in 2016 but are 4-6 and out of the rankings this week. They batted .194 with one extra-base hit against Dartmouth, and they’re batting .184 and averaging 2.7 runs through 10 games.
NSU REUNION IN LITTLE APPLE: Another red-hot Big 12 team, Kansas State (9-2) is off to its best start since the 2011 season. K-State will host Northwestern State today and Wednesday in a two-game series in Manhattan. Current K-State associate head coach Mitch Gaspard was the Northwestern State skipper from 2002-07 after a stint as the Demon’s assistant coach from 1993-94. Current NSU head coach Bobby Barbier played for Gaspard for four seasons at Northwestern State. After his playing career and three years as an assistant at NSU, Barbier joined Coach Gaspard’s staff at the University of Alabama, where he spent five seasons as the Crimson Tide’s third-base coach. After two seasons as the Demons’ pitching coach, Barbier was named the 12th head coach in NSU baseball history. NSU volunteer assistant coach Taylor Dugas played for Gaspard at Alabama from 2009-12 and is the school’s all-time leader with 309 career hits.
K-State Associate Head Coach Mitch Gaspard, the former head coach at Northwestern State and Alabama, is settling into his new role on Brad Hill’s staff this season. Brad McGuire (kstatesports.com) has this story on Gaspard today.
TWO MORE NO-HITTERS: Kansas State Parker Rigler tossed the Wildcats ninth no-hitter in school history and first since 1991, with a 14-0 win over Eastern Illinois on Sunday afternoon in Manhattan. Rigler struck out six EIU hitters, walked two and threw 103 pitches en route to his second win of the season. Rigler, a transfer from Cowley College, threw K-State’s first no-hitter since Chris Hmielewski’s five-inning no-hitter of Augustana in 1991 and first against a Division I opponent since Lon Ostrom’s seven-inning no-no in 1976 vs. Oklahoma State. In three starts this year, Rigler is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and leads the Wildcats with 15 strikeouts. Washington State threw a combined no-hitter in a 7-3 win in the second game of a double-header against Stephen F. Austin at Bailey-Brayton Stadium in Pullman on Sunday. Cody Anderson, John Rosenstein, Isaac Mullins and Scotty Sunitisch combined on one of the ugliest no-hitters in recent memory. The four pitchers walked five batters and the Cougars made four errors. WSU (6-4) recorded its first no-hitter since Kurt Waananen no-hit Rockford College in 1985, the first nine-inning no-hitter since Eric Wilkins (vs. Oregon State – 1976) and first combined no-hitter since 1974 (David Wright, Roger Stein – Idaho).
UNDEFEATED TEAMS: Louisville (11-0) and Harvard (4-0) are the lone undefeated teams in college baseball. The Cardinals owns the nation’s second-longest active winning streak. Oklahoma (13-1) has 12 straight wins. Louisville plays at Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday before it hosts Fort Wayne on Wednesday. The Cardinals open ACC play this weekend with a home series against Pitt. The Crimson opened the season this past weekend with four wins over Lafayette and Coppin State at the DC Greys Collegiate Challenge in Washington, D.C. Harvard plays a four-game series at Jacksonville (Fla.) this weekend.
WINLESS TEAMS: A total of 12 teams are still seeking their first win of the 2017 season. The list of winless teams includes Western Illinois (0-10), Fairleigh Dickinson (0-9), St. Joseph’s (0-9), Holy Cross (0-7), Mount St. Mary’s (0-7), Princeton (0-4), Brown (0-3), Columbia (0-3), Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-3), Penn (0-3) and UMass (0-3).
COLLEGE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
America East Conference preseason favorite Binghamton (7-3) has won seven straight games after opening the season with an 0-3 record.
The American Athletic Conference has a trio of red-hot teams heading into the fourth week of the college baseball season. UCF (11-1), USF (10-1) and East Carolina (8-3) are combined 29-5 this season. The Knights are off to an impressive start under first-year head coach Greg Lovelady, who led Wright State to the 2016 Horizon League Championship and runner up finish to Louisville at NCAA Louisville Regional. USF has won nine straight games with solid pitching staff. The Bulls have the fourth-best ERA (1.83) in the nation and have recorded 136 strikeouts in 103 innings. The weekend trio of Peter Strzelecki, Shane McClanahan and Phoenix Sanders are a combined 4-0 with 64 strikeouts in 35 innings. East Carolina has won eight straight games after being swept at Ole Miss to open the season.
St. Louis (10-1) has won six straight games and owns the best record in the Atlantic 10 Conference thus far. Two A-10 teams are looking for their first win over the season. St. Joseph’s is 0-9 and UMass is 0-3.
Atlantic Sun members Florida Gulf Coast (10-2) and North Florida (8-4) both have 6-game winning streaks.
The Big 12 Conference has four teams with double-figure wins this season. Oklahoma (13-1) is riding a 12-game winning streak the longest active streak in the nation. The Sooners have piled up the wins against the likes of Grambling, Villanova, Northern Illinois and Central Connecticut State. OU hosts Wichita State today in Norman and welcomes Buffalo to town for a four-game series beginning Friday.
Big East preseason favorite St. John’s (10-1) won its first nine games of the season, its best start since Frank Viola and John Franco were pitching for the Johnnies in 1981.
Michigan State (9-1), Michigan (9-3) and Iowa (6-4) are the only Big Ten teams with winning records so far this season. The Wolverines are ranked in the Top 25 after successful West Coast trip that produced seven wins in eight games.
Louisiana Tech is off to an 11-1 start under first-year head coach Lane Burroughs. The Bulldogs split a two-game home series with Arkansas last week that attracted standing-room only crowds for both games.
Missouri Valley Conference power Missouri State (10-1) is riding an 8-game winning streak. The Bears, who swept Central Arkansas last weekend, is set to embark on a 6-game road trip against Oklahoma State, Minnesota (3), St. Louis and SE Missouri State in the next 10 days.
Northeast Conference teams Fairleigh Dickinson (0-9) and Mount St. Mary’s (0-7) a combined 0-16 this season. Mount St. Mary’s has lost 16 straight games dating back to last season and is tied with Western Illinois for the longest active losing streak in the nation.
The Pac 12 has a pair of 10-1 teams this season. Arizona (10-1) opened the season with 10 straight wins before suffering its first loss to Nebraska 1-0 on Sunday at the Frisco College Classic. Arizona plays a two-game series at Texas Tech today and Wednesday. Both teams played in the 2016 CWS with Arizona reaching the championship series. Oregon State (10-1) has had a pair of 5-game winning streaks this season. The Beavers host Ball State in a four-game series at Goss Stadium this weekend.
Missouri (10-1) has the longest active winning streak in the SEC this season. After dropping its season opener to Eastern Michigan, the Tigers have reeled off 10 straight wins. Tennessee (9-1) is riding an 8-game winning streak after its sweep over Norfolk State this weekend.
Summit League member Western Illinois (0-10) has the most losses in the nation this season for team without a victory. The Leathernecks have lost 16 straight games dating back to last season. The 16-game losing streak ties Mount St. Mary’s for the longest active losing streak in the nation.
St. Peter’s is the last team to open the 2017 college baseball season. The Peacocks were scheduled to open their season today against LIU-Brooklyn at Lincoln Park Turf Field, but that game was been postponed due to inclement weather. St. Peter’s will now open the season at UL Lafayette on Friday, March 10.