TCU baseball aims to finish strong at Baylor

05/14/2014 10:13 PM

11/12/2014 5:21 PM

TCU’s regular season ends in Waco as the Horned Frogs finish with a three-game series against Baylor beginning Thursday night at Baylor Ballpark.

No. 19 TCU (36-14, 15-6 in the Big 12) is a game behind Oklahoma State in the Big 12. The Cowboys (39-13, 16-5) finish with three games against Oklahoma — Thursday in Oklahoma City and Friday and Saturday in Tulsa.

Sixth-ranked OSU owns the tiebreaker with TCU after winning two of three in Stillwater, Okla., earlier this season.

For the Frogs, who’ve won 20 of their last 22, the Bears are their only thought. Finishing strong is an important element when the NCAA postseason selection committee devises its 64-team bracket. TCU hopes its résumé already has earned it a hosting spot in the NCAA Regionals. A sweep at Baylor and a good showing at the Big 12 tournament May 21-25 could earn the Frogs their first national seed. But they might need OSU to struggle down the stretch.

Baylor (23-27, 7-13) has been struggling this season, especially offensively. The Bears are last in the league with a .233 batting average and have scored the fewest runs (199). Just two years ago, both TCU and Baylor advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals.

Baylor’s pitching has had problems, too. They’re near the bottom of the Big 12 with a 3.83 ERA. The Bears’ defense has committed 75 errors and is tied for the leagues’ worst fielding percentage at .960.

Brandon Finnegan (8-2) will make his second start Thursday night since returning from a week off with shoulder soreness. Finnegan struggled with his fastball command in the first inning against Oklahoma on Friday, but he found his groove to retire the next eight batters and threw 81 pitches over four innings to earn the win.

He’ll face Baylor right-hander Dillon Newman (4-3), who held the Sooners to two runs in seven innings in his last start on May 2. Baylor has played one game since May 4, a 5-3 win Tuesday against UT San Antonio.

TCU’s offense has averaged 8.8 runs in the last six games. If the trend continues, the Frogs’ pitching, which leads the Big 12 and ranks eighth nationally with a 2.28 ERA, appears capable of leading TCU on a deep postseason run.

“The guys we roll out there on the mound are incredible,” TCU leadoff hitter Cody Jones said last week. “So when we can help them out, if they need it and very rarely do they need it, if we can it feels really good to let them pitch relaxed. We’re feeling really good [offensively].”

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