The numbers say TCU is the underdog in this week’s Super Regional series against Texas A&M.
The Aggies hit for a higher average, have more home runs, a lower ERA, more saves and a better fielding percentage. They’re a national seed, have more wins and fewer losses. They won the postseason tournament in a better-ranked conference by RPI and are playing at home.
And more of their team is back from last year than TCU’s.
So it’s not news to the Horned Frogs that they have an uphill battle in the best-of-three series starting Friday at Blue Bell Park in College Station.
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There’s no doubt we’re the underdog in this deal. And that’s OK. It always comes down to the team that plays the best.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle
“There’s no doubt we’re the underdog in this deal,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle told reporters Tuesday at Lupton Stadium. “And that’s OK. It always comes down to the team that plays the best. We have to play better than them. If we do, then we’ll be OK. If we don’t, I’ll be standing here in baseball camp next week.”
The winner of the series advances to the College World Series. TCU won an epic super regional series against the Aggies last year at Lupton Stadium to reach Omaha for the third time in six years. A&M last went to Omaha in 2011.
“If you ask anybody, they’re probably the favorite to win,” TCU pitcher Mitchell Traver said. “But that doesn’t really matter. When we played Oral Roberts, when we played Arizona State, when we played Gonzaga, when we play A&M — anybody can win on any given day. That’s baseball. That’s playoff baseball.”
Texas A&M hit .317 with 58 home runs, posted a 3.07 ERA, 19 saves and a .977 fielding percentage so far in 2016. TCU hit .308 with 50 home runs, posted a 3.21 ERA, 13 saves and a .974 fielding percentage.
Texas A&M, led by third baseman and former TCU outfielder Boomer White, won four straight to win the SEC tournament out of the losers bracket. That earned the Aggies a No. 4 national seed and the right to host a super regional after sweeping the College Station Regional.
The Aggies (48-14) finished the regular season ranked first or second in the three major polls and have won seven straight.
“We look at it as we’re not playing anything but the game,” TCU pitcher Brian Howard said. “We play baseball. If we execute pitches, it doesn’t matter who’s standing in the batter’s box, it doesn’t matter who’s throwing for the other team. We don’t really play another team. Whether we’re favored to win or the underdog, that really has no impact on us.”
3Road victories in eight Super Regional games all-time for TCU. The Horned Frogs are 3-5 in three Super Regional road series, 4-2 in two at home and 7-7 all-time.
TCU has won 12 of 13, and also won its conference tournament and swept its regional. But seven of the victories in that stretch came at home, and there are no more games at Lupton for the Horned Frogs. The next two, at least, are in College Station, where the Aggies are 32-5.
“It would be exciting no matter where it was, who it was, because it’s a super regional with a chance to go to Omaha on the line, which is what we wake up every morning to do,” Howard said. “Every single day, it’s all we think about. The fact that it’s A&M is very exciting to a lot of people outside of our program and our locker room.
“But as far as we’re concerned, the main focus is not A&M. It’s us, the guys in that locker room, the coaching staff. All we’re really concerned with is how good we can be.”
TCU vs. Texas A&M
Best of three
Fri: 8 p.m., ESPN2
Sat: 8 p.m., ESPN
Sun: 8 p.m., ESPN2 or ESPNU