Big 12 Previews

Can TCU Advance to the Men’s College World Series Finals?

This College World Series has been one of the most insane ones of all time, with five of the first six games being decided by one run, and the first three having lead changes in the eighth and ninth. TCU’s also played a part in this madness with their opener deeply damaging their hopes of making the Final. 

How They Got Here

In the opener, TCU appeared to take a commanding lead by scoring three in the bottom of the eighth, but a four-run ninth from Oral Roberts sent them to the elimination bracket. What made this even worse is after shutting down Oral Roberts’ Jonah Cox at the plate, it was the nine-hole Blaze Brothers with a three-run bomb over the bullpen that put Oral Roberts in the 1-0 game. It was just an absolutely brutal way for TCU to lose, despite threatening in the ninth, they were shut down.

 

In their first elimination game, it appeared it could be a high-scoring affair, with both teams striking in the first, but it turned out to be anything but. Throughout the tournament three through five in the Cavs lineup had struggled, and TCU kept that trend going, holding UVA to 1-12 on the game with two of the final outs coming from them as well. TCU was just more opportunistic in this one, Virginia’s starter threw 101 pitches, allowing just two runs and being pulled after five. Additionally, both teams drew walks in the middle innings to bring up a big bat with two outs, TCU capitalized, and Virginia didn’t. Overall I was at both of those games, both felt like TCU was in control, but against Virginia, TCU finished the job they couldn’t finish on Friday.

TCU’s rematch with Oral Roberts once again seemed like they were in control, but Oral loaded the bases in the ninth and with a full count down by five, and a pitch that looked a bit outside was rung up as a game-ending strikeout. To be fair the call was close, and it was a heck of a frame job by TCU catcher Karson Bowen. Elijah Nunez was once again a critical player for TCU going 2 for 5, rebounding from his error in the ninth against Virginia that left a runner on second. Austin Davis has also been superb as their nine-hole driving in a run today to follow up his 2/2 and 2 walk day on Sunday.

 

Beating Florida Twice is Quite the Challenge

Now this isn’t a knock on TCU as much as just saying Florida has been truly unstoppable. Texas Tech, South Carolina, and Oral Roberts all gave the Gators their best shot, and aside from Tech’s Saturday win against them none have been able to stop Florida. Their lineup is littered with draft picks, and their pitching staff is deep. In the Sunday game against Texas Tech, they threw out a Freshman who went seven innings, and aside from a chance in the second inning just felt untouchable. They kept Texas Tech to an average of two runs per game over the three meetings, kept South Carolina to two in two games, held UConn to two, and shutout Florida A&M. Despite some breakdowns against Oral Roberts and Virginia this team is nearly impossible team to beat once much less twice.

Winning a double-elimination bracket without starting 2-0 is nearly impossible. Now, two other Texas teams, Texas Tech and Texas A&M, have started 2-0 and failed to advance this year so it is possible. It’s also easier to come back from a 1-1 start in the College World Series than in a Regional since you have more rest and no doubleheaders. It’s also a big advantage that TCU is in the top bracket, meaning they just play three games in three days instead of four in four, but Florida seems like a bridge too far. A disadvantage for TCU being in the top bracket is that Florida pitched Sproat on Friday, making him available on Thursday if it goes that far, and still a possibility on Wednesday.

 

They Are Still Alive

No matter what happens in the Semifinals this TCU run has been incredible, they needed to rob a homerun against Kansas State in the last game of the regular season to feel good about an at-large bid, then went and won the Big 12 Tournament for good measure. They dominated Arkansas in Fayetteville and swept Indiana State in the Supers. I still feel like they had to get a shot at Florida on Sunday night if they wanted to get through to the Final, but there is still life left in TCU. While TCU thrived off the long ball in the first two weekends of the Tournament, it hasn’t been there in Omaha, getting just one in three games. If TCU can get a breakout of home runs in even just one of their two games against Florida they certainly still have a chance.

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