SE: Baseball Closes Regular Season at TCU

Coming off of a Sunflower Showdown series victory, K-State baseball (26-26, 8-13 Big 12) heads to No. 11 TCU (35-14, 12-9 Big 12) to take on the Horned Frogs this weekend in its final regular season series of the year.  

The series kicks off tonight with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m., at Lupton Baseball Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We need to go down there (to Fort Worth) and keep trying to win a series,” said K-State baseball head coach Brad Hill. “It’s going to be a tough task. TCU is a very good opponent. They’re at home – they’re very, very good at home (TCU is 18-7 at home). I’m sure they are looking forward to getting back on the winning track. They are going for (the opportunity to host) a regional. It will be a tough weekend for us, but we have to go down there and focus on winning a series, taking care of our business.”

The Wildcats are hitting .290 as a team – third best in the Big 12 – and are led by senior Clayton Dalrymple, whose .343 batting average, 71 hits, 47 runs scored (tied for the best mark in the Big 12), and 14 stolen bases are all K-State best. Junior Jake Scudder, meanwhile, is hitting .400 in conference-only games, good for second best in the Big 12.

“It’s been different guys,” said Hill on who has been playing the strongest right now. “The lineup has become a little more thorough as you saw with Josh Ethier really stepping up (against KU). Him and Quintin Crandall have both helped out the bottom of the order, and they did a great job against KU. That’s the key thing, to have different pieces of that lineup doing what they need to do and not to have chunks of your lineup not playing well. We have to continue to understand the importance of execution and when the other opportunities arise, to get good (at-bats).”

Against Kansas, K-State came back from a 4-0 deficit in the series’ final game on Sunday, to defeat the Jayhawks, 8-5, and take the series. The Wildcats will look for success again this weekend against a tough TCU team.

The Horned Frogs enter today’s matchup coming off of a 3-2 midweek win over Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday, helping them claim five of their last seven games. In its last Big 12 series, however, TCU lost two of three at Baylor. No easy competition, the Horned Frogs boast a Big 12-best .303 team batting average and their pitching staff is second in the league with a 3.26 ERA.

The Wildcats are currently seventh in the Big 12 standings, holding the tiebreaker over Baylor (22-26, 8-13 Big 12) and a 1.5-game lead over ninth-place Kansas (20-32-1, 6-14 Big 12). This weekend’s series will play a key role in getting the Wildcats to next week’s Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as only the league’s top eight teams compete at the conference tournament.

Though there’s a lot on the line this weekend, Hill says he and his team are focusing solely on TCU and are going to let the rest take care of itself.

“We are just trying to go down (to TCU) and win the series; no question about that,” said Hill. “We have done a much better over the last six weeks of playing better baseball. Going on the road is always a difficult challenge anywhere, especially in the Big 12. TCU is a very tough team to play at home, and a very good offensive ball club. Our thing, though, is to worry about ourselves, and not anybody else.”

Following tonight’s matchup, the Wildcats and Horned Frogs will meet again tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m., and Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

For more information on this weekend’s series against TCU, please click here.