Even though this will be the Virginia baseball program’s first trip to the state of Texas, a somewhat familiar face will stand in the way of the Hoos reaching their fourth Super Regional in five years.
Most Cavalier fans will remember the Virginia run to the 2014 College World Series. The Hoos took on the Horned Frogs in their second game in Omaha and coming out on top 3-2 in 15 innings. However, along with all the coaches, only three players from that 2014 squad are still on the team this go round.
While that 2014 TCU team was the No. 7 National Seed, this year’s team is equally as good and earned the No. 6 National Seed.
At 42-16 overall and 16-8 in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs tied with Texas Tech for the regular season title, earning the 2 seed in last week’s Big 12 tournament. After losing their opening round game to 7 seed Kansas, they staved off elimination for 3 games before falling to Texas.
They have the #7 overall RPI and have been stellar at home, compiling a 23-4 record. While Virginia’s record on the road obviously is not as good, the Hoos were 11-7 away from Charlottesville and went 6-7 against the Top 25 RPI teams on their schedule. TCU was 11-9 against that part of their schedule.
Fortunately for UVa, TCU will not have their stud first baseman Luken Baker in the lineup after he had surgery last week and will miss the rest of the postseason. That doesn’t mean TCU won’t be stellar at the plate though. Outfielder Austen Wade leads the Horned Frogs with a .361 average and a .534 slugging percentage. The Cavalier pitchers will also have to watch for Nolan Brown on the basepaths. Brown’s .375 obp has helped him be 26-27 in stolen base chances this season. And while only one TCU player has more than 10 home runs on the season, Evan Skoug is a power at the plate having hit 16 long balls on the season and was named a 2017 Co-Player of the Year in the Big 12.
If Virginia is to make it out of the regional, they’ll also have to contend with TCU’s potent staff. Likely being saved for a Saturday game, rs sophomore righty Jared Janczak comes into the tournament with an 8-0 record and a 1.99 ERA. Janczak is not prone to give up runs or hits as hitters are just batting .155 on the season. Nick Lodolo and Brian Howard are both capable starters for TCU, but both have ERAs above 4.25.
If Virginia can get through DBU on Friday and set up a showdown with TCU on Saturday, it will be interesting to see Virginia’s offense against TCU’s Janczak.