WVU Baseball

Series Preview: WVU plays TCU in must-win series

By Ryan Decker

This weekend’s series on the diamond between West Virginia (25-21, 7-11) and Texas Christian University (27-18, 8-9) has postseason implications written all over it.

TCU, which started the season No. 7 in the country and with Omaha aspirations, is currently sixth in the Big 12 and unranked nationally.

West Virginia, pegged to finish fifth in the conference at the start of a year in which it was hoping to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, is seventh in the conference and hasn’t been ranked at all this year.

Both teams aren’t in great shape in terms of RPI either – TCU enters the weekend 65th in the country, and WVU has fallen to 45th after dropping two out of three games against Kansas last weekend.

Neither team is projected to make the NCAA Tournament according to Baseball America projections earlier this week.

The Horned Frogs can officially bounce West Virginia’s postseason aspirations by defending home turf, or the Mountaineers can shoot down TCU’s chances of a fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning a series on the road.

Second baseman Kyle Gray could be the deciding factor in the series.

The junior owns a 24-game reached-base streak and a 23-game hitting streak. He’s also been responsible for seven of the West Virginia’s last ten home runs over the last two-plus weeks.

Gray’s 13 home runs this season are tied for seventh-most in a single season in program history.

TCU pitching will be hoping to keep him in the ballpark, but also have to remember that multiple other Mountaineer hitters have been dangerous.

Darius Hill is working on a 22-game reached base streak, and Marques Inman has reached safely in 21 consecutive games.

Left-hander Nick Lodolo (6-3, 4.65 ERA) will try to cool off the Mountaineer bats Friday, while righty Jake Eissler (4-1, 2.96) will look to do so Saturday. TCU hasn’t announced Sunday’s starting pitcher. Lodolo ranks second in the conference with 78 strikeouts, and Eissler has picked up 23 strikeouts over his last two appearances.  

West Virginia will send BJ Myers (1-1, 4.42) to the mound for the series opener and then turn to Kade Strowd (4-4, 4.79) for the middle game on Saturday. The Mountaineers also haven’t announced a starting pitcher for the series finale.

TCU, currently riding a six-game winning streak, is led offensively by Josh Watson, one of three Horned Frog hitters with a batting average above .300. Watson leads active TCU players in average (.327), hits (56), home runs (8) and walks (31).

Texas Christian is without is power-hitting first baseman Luken Baker for the second-straight postseason push. Baker has been out since mid-April after fracturing his left fibula and tearing a ligament in his left ankle.

The Horned Frogs are 14-4 against the Mountaineers all-time and undefeated against the Mountaineers at home, but WVU claimed two victories against TCU last year in Morgantown.

Texas Christian has already lost double the number of games (8) at home this year than it did last year (4). The series opener is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday. The middle game Saturday is set to begin at 5 p.m. and Sunday’s game will start at 2 p.m. 


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