By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
TCU baseball takes its show on the road this weekend, heading up to Lexington, Ky., to square off against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Frogs and Wildcats last met in February of 2020, in what was the season opener for TCU. The Frogs swept that series, outscoring Kentucky 22-7 in the process.
This year TCU carries a six-game winning streak into the Bluegrass state, leaning on a dominant starting rotation and a surprising amount of power in the lineup. Through the first eight games of the season TCU is second in the Big 12 in ERA (2.56), third in batting average (.281), and fourth in fielding percentage (.982).
Meanwhile, Kentucky suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday, falling to Western Kentucky 7-5. The Wildcats won their first six games of the season, sweeping series against Jacksonville State and Western Michigan, while also knocking off Bellarmine University and the University of Evansville in midweek contests.
TCU’s weekend starters have combined to go 4-0 in their first six starts of the year, with 36 strikeouts and just six runs allowed in 35 innings pitched. Brett Walker is tied for the most innings pitched in the Big 12, while Austin Krob has yet to allow a run.
On the back end, closer River Ridings is tied for the national lead in saves with four.
In between the starters and Ridings, though, TCU is still looking for consistency out of the bullpen.
At the plate, David Bishop, Gray Rodgers, Tommy Sacco and Brayden Taylor have reached safely in every game. Bishop ranks second in the Big 12, and is tied for third among all NCAA freshman , with 13 RBIs.
For Kentucky, shortstop Ryan Ritter is an elite defender who is in the Top 100 MLB prospects on every list, and is very likely a first-round pick when the MLB Draft comes around in July. Third baseman Chase Estep is hitting the cover off the ball, with three home runs and four doubles already this season. Aside from Estep, the Wildcats have three more hitters with batting averages over .400.
Kentucky’s pitching staff owns an ERA of 3.90 and opponents are batting .255, and the Wildcats are yet to shut out an opponent in spite of the level of competition.
TCU at Kentucky
Friday-Sunday, Kentucky Proud Park, Lexington, Ky.
Records: TCU 7-1 (last game, def. UTA 8-5); Kentucky 8-1 (last game, def. Evansville 5-4)
Times: Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, noon; Sunday, noon
TV/stream: SEC Network+
Radio: KTCU/88.7 FM (Friday, Sunday)
TCU starting pitchers
Friday: Austin Krob, LHP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Saturday: Riley Cornelio, RHP, 1-0, 3.18 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
Sunday: Brett Walker, RHP, 2-0, 1.32 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
TCU projected lineup
- Elijah Nunez, CF
- Luke Boyers, RF
- Brayden Taylor, 3B
- David Bishop, 1B
- Gray Rodgers, 2B
- Tommy Sacco, SS
- Reed Spenrath, DH
- Kurtis Byrne, C
- Porter Brown, LF OR Logan Maxwell
Kentucky starting pitchers
Friday: Cole Stupp, RHP, 1-0, 8.00 ERA, 2.14 WHIP
Saturday: Magdiel Cotto, LHP, 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.65 WHIP
Sunday: Tyler Bosma, 1-0, LHP, 4.50 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Kentucky projected lineup
- Ryan Ritter, SS
- Hunter Lump, LF
- Jacob Plastiak, 1B
- Adam Fogel, RF
- Chase Estep, 3B
- Oraj Anu, DH
- Daniel Harris IV, 2B
- Devin Burkes, C
- John Thrasher, CF
The Frogs are clicking at a high level, against solid baseball teams. Kentucky is clicking against lighter competition. But both teams are clicking. If TCU can get to Kentucky’s starters early, and the Frogs’ starters can continue their impressive stretch, the Frogs should have success.
TCU sweeps, 3 games to 0