Texas Zane Gurwitz leaps for a catch against TCU at Disch Falk Field on Friday, April 18, 2014. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BEVO BEAT Baseball

Big 12 front-runner in Texas’ sights as Longhorns head to TCU

Posted May 5th, 2017

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With a chance to climb into contention for a conference championship, Texas will travel to Fort Worth this weekend.

Texas (31-16; 9-8 Big 12) trails Big 12-leading TCU (32-11; 12-6) by 2.5 games in the standings. Three games against TCU and a series against third-place West Virginia represent the meat left on the Longhorns’ regular-season schedule.

“You can’t ask for a better opportunity than right now, we’re right where we need to be,” Texas senior Kacy Clemens said. “I think if we get our job done in the next couple weeks, it could be a fun postseason.”

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Morgan Cooper (41), left, talks with Michael Cantu (7) between pitches in the first inning of the first game in a series against the Rice University Owls at the University of Texas’ UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas on Friday February 17, 2017. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Texas junior Morgan Cooper, the Big 12’s leader in strikeouts and ERA and reigning pitcher of the week, will return to the top of Texas’ rotation this weekend. That start will be followed by Nolan Kingham (7-3, 2.05 ERA) and Kyle Johnston (2-1, 3.29). Texas’ trio of right-handers and a defense that leads the nation in double plays will battle a TCU team hitting .273 and scoring nearly seven runs per game.

Meanwhile, TCU will throw Nick Lodolo (5-1, 4.39), Brian Howard (6-3, 5.43) and Mitchell Traver (2-1, 3.95) at the Longhorns.

A recent run of wins has propelled the Longhorns back into the national rankings. After losing 10 of its first 14 one-run games, Texas has been victorious in its last three close calls. Last weekend, Texas also won a road series for the first time in 2017.

“The two things that have really been documented is how we’ve struggled on the road and one-run games,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “Both of those have been proved. You build off of that.”

Friday and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on ESPNU, and ESPN2 will televise Saturday’s showdown. Radio listeners can tune into either 104.9 FM or 1260 AM for all three games.

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