Familiar foes again meet in Austin

Kendall Rogers
Yahoo! SportsJune 9, 2010

Everyone knows that sometimes the third time can be a charm. TCU hopes for once the second time is a charm.

The Horned Frogs took a step forward last season by winning the Fort Worth Regional. However, they were ousted from the NCAA postseason by Texas in the Austin Super Regional.

It's like déjà vu again. Only this time the Horned Frogs hope to be making reservations for the College World Series less than a week from now.

TCU dominated its NCAA regional field this past weekend. Texas did the same, allowing just three runs in three games against Rider, Louisiana-Lafayette and Rice.

Texas has the edge in the pitching, fielding and intangibles categories. TCU, though, clearly has the better offense with Jason Coats and Bryan Holaday leading the way.

TCU, as it did last season, will give Texas all it can handle this weekend. But the Longhorns are the last team you want to play in this situation.

The Longhorns have an excellent weekend rotation and closer in Taylor Jungmann, Brandon Workman, Cole Green and Chance Ruffin, respectively.

The four-headed monster and the home crowd will be the difference this weekend.

Texas will be back in Omaha.

Austin Super Regional: Who has the edge?
Pitching

You will be in heaven this weekend if you're a fan of big-time arms.

Texas and TCU enter the weekend with two of the nation's best pitching staffs. The Longhorns have the nation's top staff with a 2.45 ERA. TCU, meanwhile, is ranked ninth nationally with a 3.48 ERA.

It's tough to go with one staff over the other in this series, but we're giving the edge to the Longhorns' Taylor Jungmann, Cole Green and Brandon Workman.

The trio was fabulous in the Austin Regional this past weekend, as the Longhorns allowed just three runs in three games.

Jungmann enters the series with a 2.10 ERA in 111 2/3 innings. He has struck out 120 and walked 39 and is limiting opposing teams to a .210 batting average. Green is 11-1 and has a 2.63 ERA in 106 innings. Opposing teams are hitting just .214 off Green. Workman is 12-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 99 2/3 innings. Teams are hitting .248 off him.

The Longhorns also have the nation's best closer in right-hander Chance Ruffin. Ruffin has recorded 14 saves in 36 appearances and has a 0.73 ERA in 61 2/3 innings. He has struck out 96 and walked 18, and teams are hitting just .176 against him.

TCU's pitching staff isn't far behind the Longhorns.

The Frogs have an excellent weekend rotation that includes Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler and Steven Maxwell. Purke, of course, is the freshman sensation who turned down millions to attend college last fall.

Purke has had a fantastic first season and enters the series with a 3.40 ERA in 95 1/3 innings. He has struck out 122 and walked 27, and teams are hitting just .226 against him.

Winkler has a 3.05 ERA in 106 1/3 innings and teams are hitting .246 against him, while Maxwell leads the starters in ERA at 2.51 in 97 innings. Teams are hitting just .230 off Maxwell this season.

The Frogs also have a crop of talented relievers to watch, including Kaleb Merck, Tyler Lockwood and Trent Appleby. Merck has a 1.08 ERA in 25 innings, Lockwood a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings and Appleby a 3.41 ERA in 37 innings.

Hitting

The Longhorns may have a better pitching staff than the Horned Frogs, but there's no question which team leads the charge at the plate. That team is TCU.

The Horned Frogs are having another banner offensive campaign and enter the series with an impressive .345 batting average. The Longhorns, meanwhile, enter the series with just a .289 average.

TCU has several hitters to watch this weekend, including leading hitter Jason Coats, Matt Curry and Bryan Holaday.

Coats is having a phenomenal season and is hitting .377 with 22 doubles, four triples, 13 homers and 65 RBIs. He also is slugging .656 and has a .413 on-base percentage. Curry is hitting .353 with 26 doubles, two triples, 17 homers and 59 RBIs, while Holaday, an outstanding offensive and defensive catcher, is hitting .347 with 22 doubles, a triple, 12 homers and 47 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on Brance Rivera, Josh Elander and Taylor Featherston. Rivera is hitting .370, Elander is hitting .366 and Featherston is hitting .343.

The Longhorns don't enter the weekend with a highly productive offense. But the unit is very deceptive. By that, it's safe to say the Longhorns are very opportunistic when they get runners on base. They also can hit the long ball at times, as evidenced by the homers they hit in the Austin Regional.

Russell Moldenhauer, Tant Shepherd, Cameron Rupp and Kevin Keyes spearhead the Texas offense.

Moldenhauer is hitting .341 with nine homers and 41 RBIs. Shepherd is hitting .333 with seven homers and 34 RBIs. Rupp is hitting .317 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs, and Keyes is a big-time power hitter with 14 homers and 57 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on Kevin Lusson, who has 14 homers and 45 RBIs.

Fielding

Both the Longhorns and Horned Frogs field at a solid clip, but the edge definitely goes to the burnt orange.

The Longhorns enter the super regional series with a fabulous .980 fielding percentage. TCU enters the series with a solid .972 fielding percentage.

Both teams have solid outfielders, but Texas clearly has the better infield.

The Longhorns have a solid fielding first baseman in Tant Shepherd, who is fielding at a .994 clip. Second baseman Jordan Etier has a .985 fielding percentage, and shortstop Brandon Loy is one of the nation's best defenders at his position and enters the series with a .973 fielding percentage. Catcher Cameron Rupp also has done a great job behind the plate this season, while third baseman Kevin Lusson is the lone weak spot with a .868 fielding percentage.

By comparison, Horned Frogs first baseman Matt Curry has a .995 fielding percentage. Second baseman Jerome Pena has a .950 fielding percentage. Shortstop Taylor Featherston has a .944 fielding percentage. Third baseman Jantzen Witte has a .941 fielding percentage, and catcher Bryan Holaday is one of the nation's best at his position with a .990 fielding percentage.

It will be special to watch catchers Rupp and Holaday lead their teams this weekend.

Look for good defense across the board, too.

Intangibles

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle has done a wonderful job with his program, and there's no doubt the Frogs will enter the series with a wealth of confidence and experience.

The Longhorns, though, are the last team you want to play with a berth in the College World Series on the line.

The Longhorns have several veteran pitchers and position players. They enter the series with an amazing 34-4 record at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

In addition to experience and home-field advantage, the Longhorns have one of the best in the business when it comes to the postseason in longtime coach Augie Garrido.

As was the case when these two met last season, the Longhorns have the overall advantage entering the weekend.