In the second matchup of the Fort Worth region, TCU and Oral Roberts will play on Friday, June 3.
For ASU Baseball’s matchup preview against Gonzaga click here
Regional host TCU comes in as the No. 1 seed while Oral Roberts will play the role of underdog as the No. 4 seed.
Both teams found success during the season with TCU winning the Big 12 championship and Oral Roberts winning the Summit League championship.
One thing that will separate these regular season champions is the level of competition they played against.
TCU played in the Big 12, a conference that produced three tournament teams along with one national seed, Texas Tech.
In the Summit League, Oral Roberts faced programs that are still developing as they easily cruised to their 17th Summit League championship.
Where Oral Roberts lacked competition-wise in conference, their out of conference schedule made up for it.
Oral Roberts played Dallas Baptist, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State this season, three programs that are strong teams. The Golden Eagles finished 16-11 out of conference.
Another factor that will play into this matchup is pitching.
TCU has a team ERA of 3.31, good for 26th in the nation. On the other side, Oral Roberts has a team ERA of 3.90.
Both teams have a low team ERA, keeping in mind that the level of competition Oral Roberts played may make their team ERA unreliable.
Regardless of competition, both projected starters have been shaky on the season.
For the Horned Frogs, junior Brian Howard has shown moments of greatness while also displaying moments of amateurism.
in 2016, Howard is 7-2 with an ERA of 3.81. He also has 69 strikeouts in 280 batters faced.
The liability with Howard is that his game is incredibly dependent on the success of his fastball. He has great control over his fastball and when he can locate his spots without losing velocity, it’s a lethal pitch.
Issues arise when he tries to do too much with the ball so he loses velocity or control of it in the process. This is when it hangs over the plate and becomes a favorable pitch for opposing teams.
When Howard can find a solid middle ground he is a very effective pitcher.
For Oral Roberts, redshirt freshman Bryce Howe is the projected starter.
Howe is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.73. He averaged over eight strikeouts a game during the regular season and only allowed one home run all year.
Even though Howe is the projected starter, Oral Roberts built their pitching staff on having three quality starters instead of one superstar ace.
Both pitchers have started over 10 games and they also have six wins each on the season.
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Having three pitchers with over 10 starts apiece and the same amount of wins allows Oral Roberts to switch pitchers early in the game if the starter is struggling with the hopes of the new pitcher giving them a quality outing.
This game should be a win for TCU as their overall season experience has allowed them to prepare better for this situation. But don’t count out Oral Roberts as they come in as underdogs who could stun TCU with their plethora of starting pitchers that can come in as long relief.