College Sports

TCU vs. Missouri State: A scouting report on the matchup from a coach who played both

Missouri State’s Jake Burger, left, Jordan Knuston, center, and Justin Paulsen celebrate after beating Arkansas 3-2 in Fayetteville, Ark.
Missouri State’s Jake Burger, left, Jordan Knuston, center, and Justin Paulsen celebrate after beating Arkansas 3-2 in Fayetteville, Ark. AP

Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner, whose team played both TCU and Missouri State this season, provided an impromptu scouting report on the task ahead for the Horned Frogs this weekend in Fort Worth.

“They’ve got a pretty dangerous lineup,” he said of the Missouri Valley Conference champion Bears. “They’ve got two guys in the middle that both have 20 home runs, and then they’ve got some other guys around them, too. It’s not just a two-person lineup.”

The big hitters in the middle are third baseman Jake Burger hitting third and shortstop Jeremy Eierman hitting fifth. They both have 22 home runs for a team that ranks 13th in the country with 78.

Eierman hit a walk-off two-run home run to beat Oklahoma State in the opener of the Fayetteville Regional and a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning Monday to win the championship against Arkansas.

Burger played on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team with TCU catcher Evan Skoug last summer and was one of two players to start all 19 games for Team USA on an international tour.

“When we saw them, they were playing outstanding baseball,” Heefner said of Missouri State, which swept Dallas Baptist in Springfield in April. “They have three quality starters. They played solid defense. It should be a good Super Regional.

“Obviously, TCU’s got a great team — really, really good pitching. They started swinging the bats really well this week. So I think it’ll be a fun one.”

Dallas Baptist lost three games to TCU — 3-2 in Fort Worth on March 7, 9-3 in Dallas on April 11 and Monday’s 15-3 loss in the Fort Worth Regional championship. The Patriots lost by scores of 5-1, 11-8 and 7-3 to Missouri State.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said he has long followed Missouri State and 35th-year coach Keith Guttin, who entered the season ranked eighth among active Division I coaches in career wins.

“They’ve run a great program for a long time,” he said. “They have outstanding players — obviously a lot of power. They can pitch. I mean, if you go into Arkansas and win a regional, you have a good team.”

The teams share some strengths.

TCU and Missouri State are both top six in the country in walks drawn. TCU ranks sixth with 328. Missouri State ranks fourth with 346.

TCU ranks 26th in runs scored with 423. Missouri State ranks 24th with 430.

TCU pitchers rank 14th in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.3. Missouri State pitchers rank 22nd at 9.0.

Schlossnagle credited Missouri State’s response after losing to Arkansas on a walk-off wild pitch at 3:10 a.m. Monday — a game that included a one-hour, 25-minute rain delay — which required the Bears to play a second game for the championship later the same day.

“So you know they have a lot of character,” Schlossnagle said. “But that’s what you’re going to get this time of year.

“You don’t float on a magic cloud to Omaha. You have to play your way there. You have to earn it. You’re going to have to play your best to succeed.”

TCU and Missouri State will start their best-of-three Super Regional Series at 5 p.m. Saturday at Lupton Stadium.

Game 2 will be at 5 p.m. Sunday, and Game 3, if necessary, would be Monday at a time yet to be determined.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

No. 7 TCU

vs. No. 22 Missouri State

5 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU),

5 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN2),

TBD Monday (if necessary)