TCU catcher Kyle Bacak’s improvement at plate proves it can be done

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Texas Southern at TCU 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Lupton Stadium Records: TCU 20-23; Texas Southern 18-22 Radio: KTCU/88.7 FM

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There haven’t been many in 2013, but one offensive bright spot for TCU has been catcher Kyle Bacak over the last two weeks.

The junior transfer has raised his batting average 36 points to .257 during a seven-game hit streak. He’s batting .314 in Big 12 play, second on the team to Jantzen Witte’s .344. In the last seven games Bacak is hitting .375 with two multi-hit games and five runs scored. He’s also improved behind the plate, dramatically decreasing passed balls which plagued the Horned Frogs the first couple months of the season. Most of those issues, including wild pitches and missed signs, however, fell on the pitching staff.

TCU (20-23) has 11 regular-season games remaining, beginning at 6:30 tonight against Texas Southern (18-22) at Lupton Stadium. Right-hander Trey Teakell (3-0) makes his third start. The Tigers’ starter was unavailable. TCU has six Big 12 games left, but first travel to USC for a three-game nonconference series beginning Thursday. TCU lost two-of-three at Kansas State this past weekend despite out-hitting the Wildcats 29 to 22 in the series. TCU’s team batting average (.250) is fifth best in the Big 12. In overall play, though, TCU is still last at .243.

In close games, TCU has too often been unable to come up with the clutch hit. The Frogs are 6-8 in one-run games, 1-5 in two-run games and 3-5 in three-run games. Together that’s an 10-18 mark.

“We’re a swing or two or an at bat away from winning a series,” Schlossnagle said. “Just like last week we were a swing or an at bat from either sweeping the series, getting swept, or losing the series. It’s just the way life is right now. The ability to win close games, that is going to define our season.”

The Frogs have failed to sweep a three-game series this season, something they’ve done quite regularly over the last 10 seasons. Winning the Big 12 Conference tournament is the only avenue left for the Frogs to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. To do that, TCU has to win four games in the double-elimination tournament, which begins May 22 in Oklahoma City. In the meantime, Schlossnagle wants to see his team continue to improve at the plate. The kind of improvement Bacak has shown.

“We need to put three solid games of baseball together,” Schlossnagle said. “We haven’t done that all year. That either means we can’t do it or that means our best baseball is ahead of us. I’m just going to keep challenging our team that in order to play well for four days, we better start playing well for three days. We better start practicing that and playing with that kind of tournament-type energy. We play with good energy and we play hard but there is a difference when you’re talking about if you lose two games your season is over.”

Finnegan earns spot

TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who attended Fort Worth Southwest High School, has been invited to pitch with the USA Baseball Collegiate National team this summer. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle is coaching the team. Finnegan is the fifth TCU player in history to earn a spot on the team. Finnegan has a 2.12 ERA with 65 strikeouts this season but has received little run support and is 0-6.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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