WACO, Texas -- Baylor baseball travels to Fort Worth, Texas to take on No. 6 TCU in a weekend three-game Big 12 series. The Bears and Horned Frogs will play Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX College Sports, Saturday at 3 p.m. on FOX Sports Southwest and Sunday at 1 p.m.
All Baylor baseball games are broadcast live on Waco's 1660 ESPN Central Texas (1330 AM/100.9 FM in Temple, Belton and Killeen). Derek Smith provides the play-by-play with Steve Johnigan adding color commentary. Live streaming audio, video and GameTracker also are available for all Baylor baseball home games online at BaylorBears.com.
Date(s): April 21-23, 2017
Time(s): 6:30 PM | 3 PM | 1 PM CT
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
TV: FCS (Fri.) | FSSW (Sat.)
Stadium: Lupton Stadium (4,500)
Radio: ESPN/KRZI 1660 AM (Waco)
Talent: Derek Smith (pxp), Steve Johnigan (color)
Overall: BU leads 142-121
Streak: TCU has won 2
Waco: BU leads 74-45
Fort Worth: TCU leads 59-50
Neutral Site: TCU leads 8-4
Rodriguez vs: 2-2
First Meeting: April 21, 1904
Last Meeting: May 25, 2016
Live Stats: GoFrogs.com
Twitter Updates: @BaylorBaseball
2017 Record: 23-14
2017 Big 12 Record: 5-7
Head Coach: Steve Rodriguez
Career: 333-341 (14th season)
BU: 47-43 (2nd season)
TCU HORNED FROGS
2017 Record: 28-7
2017 Big 12 Record: 9-3
Head Coach: Jim Schlossnagle
Career: 670-308 (16th season)
TCU: 593-261 (14th season)
2017 STAT LEADERS
AVG: Austen Wade (.331)
2B: Elliott, Wade (9)
HR: Luken Baker (7)
RBI: Cam Warner (34)
SB: Nolan Brown (20)
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Having won three of its last four games, including its first series victory in over a month, Baylor baseball (23-14, 5-7) carries that wave of momentum into one of its stiffest tests of the year.
The Bears, who already boast the third-toughest strength of the schedule in the country, will face sixth-ranked TCU (28-7, 9-3) in a three-game weekend series at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth.
"From our standpoint, it's not really a matter of who we're playing, it's just a matter of making sure we pitch well, we don't walk guys, we're able to play good defense and then execute offensively," coach Steve Rodriguez said. "When we're able to do that, our team is really, really good. When we don't do it, we have our moments when we struggle. But, for the most part, we've had a really good opportunity to reap the benefits of being able to execute."
Until the ninth inning of Tuesday's game against Stephen F. Austin, it looked like any momentum the Bears gained from a series win over Texas would be lost. Not only were they getting shut out, they had only three hits through the first eight frames.
But, in the blink of an eye, all that changed. Kameron Esthay tied it with a leadoff homer over the right-field wall, and then freshman Davis Wendzel won it, 2-1, in walk-off fashion by crushing one to left.
"It was a little frustrating the whole game, not being able to put any runs up for the pitchers, because they were doing so great," Wendzel said. "I think we just picked our pitches. Instead of going out and swinging at pitches that they were throwing . . . . we picked the ones we could hit and didn't miss them."
Rodriguez said "it was a frustrating game in some capacities," because the Bears got runners in scoring position and couldn't come up with the big hit.
"Then, three pitches and the game is over," he said. "It was exciting that our bullpen and our pitchers were able to do what they did, being able to give us a chance to win later in the game like that. And then, having those two guys come up with big hits the way they did, that was pretty exciting."
Baylor also had a walk-off win to beat Texas, 4-3, last Friday and scored six in the ninth to beat Texas Tech, 10-9, in the last game of that series.
After a rough patch that saw the Bears lose four weekend series in a row, they now have some momentum going the other way.
"You see it, and you can feel it," Rodriguez said. "It's just a matter of whether our guys are able to understand exactly what it is. . . . You can kind of sense some momentum building, you see our guys having some confidence. I can throw out all the clichés - they need to relax a little more, not try as hard not do too much. But the biggest thing I want them to understand is that they have what it takes to win this thing."
Standing in the way is a TCU team that is trying to win its second Big 12 title in three years and make it back to the College World Series for the fourth straight year.
The Horned Frogs' offensive numbers won't knock you over. They're tied for fourth in the league with Baylor with a .274 batting average and have hit 33 homers.
And even the weekend starting pitchers aren't exactly lighting it up. Jared Janczak leads the way with a 6-0 record and 2.25 ERA and will face Nick Lewis (4-3, 3.53) in Friday's 6:30 p.m. series opener.
After that, the matchups are fairly even and might even favor Baylor. Lefty Nick Lodolo (3-1, 5.49) gets the nod for Saturday's 3 p.m. game, opposed by Baylor junior righty Montana Parsons (2-2, 3.08), with right-hander Brian Howard (5-2, 4.82) going against BU freshman lefty Cody Bradford (4-2, 4.42) in Sunday's 1 p.m. series finale.
"They're probably not hitting as well as they did last year," Rodriguez said. "But the pitching can sometimes override that, give them the buffer. If your offense isn't doing well, then your pitching will make sure you stay in the baseball game. Their starting pitching is phenomenal, as well as their bullpen."
Friday's game will be broadcast on FOX College Sports, with Saturday's tilt being aired by FOX Sports Southwest.
TEAM QUICK NOTES
*Baylor's 23-14 record through 37 games is its best since a 30-7 start in 2012.
*Baylor's 15-2 start through 17 games was tied for its best in program history (started 15-2 in 1990 and 1961).
*JUCO Jr. SS Tucker Cascadden (Brooks Wallace Award), Jr. RHP Troy Montemayor (Pitcher of the Year Award) & Fr. LHP/OF Hunter Seay (John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award) were named to College Baseball Foundations' midseason watch lists.
*Baylor has 3 walk-off wins this season (March 5 vs. Texas A&M, April 14 vs. Texas, April 18 vs. Stephen F. Austin) and 2 in the last 3 games.
*Baylor has won 4 of its 8 3-game series this season.
*Baylor is 6-6 against ranked teams this season.
*Baylor is 4-5 this season and 7-9 under Steve Rodriguez against Baseball America ranked teams and 201-297-1 all-time, including a 36-45 mark since 2011.
*Baylor is 1-3 this season (lost to No. 4 LSU, 2-1 at No. 6 Texas Tech) and 91-150 all-time against Baseball America top 10 teams with its last series win coming in Waco vs. No. 10 TCU (2-1) on May 13-15, 2016.
*Baylor is 7-5 away from Baylor Ballpark this season (5-4 on road, 2-1 in neutral sites).