Tyler Alexander and Preston Morrison will start the first two games of the Super Regional for TCU, which is counting on their ability to stay away from the middle of the plate against the heavy-hitting Texas A&M lineup.
“What they do is they punish mistakes,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of the Aggies, who led the SEC in home runs with 68, which ranked fifth in the country. “That’s why a guy with command like Tyler, if he’s on, he’ll give us a good chance. And we know what Preston can do. But if you miss in the middle of the plate or pitch behind in the county, they’re going to make you pay.”
Alexander (6-2, 2.68) is coming off a complete-game victory against N.C. State, another powerful lineup, last week in the Fort Worth regional. He needed only 110 pitches and was perfect for the first six innings.
“Tomorrow’s got to be a start that’s just the same as a normal regular-season start,” said Alexander, a sophomore left-hander from Southlake Carroll. “I can’t overhype it in my head. I’ve just got to go out and make the pitches that I know I can. I can’t overthink it. I just know I need to keep the ball low in the zone. I need to attack with my fastball like I’ve done pretty much every game this year. I need to find my offspeed pitches early. And mainly I just need to keep the ball down. With a team that has as much power as they do, that’ll be big for me.”
Morrison (11-2, 2.60), a right-handed senior, is also coming off a strong performance. He pitched eight innings against N.C. State last weekend and struck out a career-high 10 in what Schlossnagle said was the best he had seen him pitch.
A&M is going to start junior right-hander Grayson Long (9-0, 2.53) on Saturday and junior left-hander Matt Kent (9-1, 2.99) on Sunday.
The Horned Frogs are 29-7 against right-handed starters and 18-5 against left-handed starters.
Instant reply will be available to the umpires in the Super Regional, which Schlossnagle is happy about.
“I think it should be part of baseball,” he said. “I’m OK with it being part of baseball. Think it’s good for the sport.”
Replay reviews will cover home run balls being fair or foul, some batted balls balls being fair or foul, catches in the outfield and in foul territory (but not the infield) and spectator interference.
There are no challenges, but coaches can request a review. The umpire will get help from a “centralized replay official.” There is no time limit on the reviews.
“It’ll be interesting,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re going to have some fans down here in teh turf area, so there’ll be more opportunities for fan interference.”
Shortstop Keaton Jones had only three hits in the regional last weekend, but he came out of Monday night’s game feeling confident after a 2-for-3 performance that included two walks, a run scored and an RBI.
“I changed up a few things, kind of figured it out,” he said. “It was more about seeing the ball, being confident. So I was doing that.”
Jones had a hit in the opening game against Sacred Heart but went hitless in his next 11 at-bats before singling in the second inning Monday.
“The first day, I felt pretty good. Things weren’t falling for me,” he said. “Second game, I had two team ABs. That’s what it’s about. Maybe people don’t see that, but they were team ABs. The next night was a really tough night for me. For some reason, I wasn’t seeiing the ball. I was not comfortable.”
Schlossnagle said Jones’ at-bats were the best on the team Monday.
“He’s gotten big hits,” he said. “It’s just amazing how far that guy’s come as an offensive player.”
At Lupton Stadium, TCU is 308-103 all-time, 2-1 in Super Regional games and 16-4 in NCAA postseason games.
The Horned Frogs are 5-6 all-time in Super Regional games.
TCU is 2-2 against Texas A&M at Lupton Stadium. Texas A&M won the last meeting at Lupton, 4-1 on April 24, 2012.
Right fielder Nolan Brown led the Horned Frogs in hitting at .421 (8-for-19) during the regional.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407