TCU vs. Ole Miss: College World Series Preview and Game Thread

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

TCU and Ole Miss face off for what should be an epic elimination game tonight in Omaha. Offense vs. Defense babyyyy

Like I said in the Q&A, elimination games are never fun. Especially when you’re playing a high-potent offense like Ole Miss. But hold your head high, Tyler Alexander “The Great” is on the hill tonight. The freshman lefty won TCU a Big 12 title, this is just another page in his book…

The Match-Up:  Tyler Alexander vs. Sam Smith

Player

Record

ERA

Strikeouts, K/9

Walks, BB/9

Tyler Alexander

10-3

2.16

58 (5.48)

11 (1.04)

Sam Smith

5-4

3.45

51 (5.04)

18 (1.78)

While Alexander didn’t have the best outing against Pepperdine---in TCU’s stretch of success, Alexander was perhaps better than both the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and the No. 17 pick in this year’s MLB Draft. We’ve talked about this before, but the offense---by whatever power---seems to always pull it together when he’s on the bump.

As far as Alexander himself---TCU’s win leader---he’s not going to do anything terribly fancy. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of guys, but he doesn’t walk many either. Also look for him to keep his pitch-count low tonight and thereby get a lot of innings in---looking at 7 or 8. As the season progressed, Alexander developed into a marathon pitcher and the freshman threw 2 complete games at the end of the year to cap a Freshmen All-American season.  It’s also going to be a plus to have a dominant lefty throw against the best offensive team---one comprised of mostly left-handed hitters--- remaining in Omaha.  

Of Ole Miss’ three starters, Sam Smith is the one they want to face. He’s not bad by any means, but coming off another marathon against a pitching staff comparable their own---both of which are considered the Nation’s best---Smith will be a nice change of pace for the Horned Frogs.

Impact Players

TCU Impact: Kevin Cron

The park hasn’t done him any favors, but The Mountain has shown up big lately. Cron just keeps inching closer and closer to driving one out and putting TCU up by an insurmountable margin. Even if that margin is two or three runs, a simple two-run bomb from Cron would give the Horned Frogs all the leg room they’d need for a win. We’re talking Emergency Row on an airplane type of leg room.

Ole Miss Impact: Auston Bousfield

Even if Jeff Gray from Red Cup Rebellion hadn’t pointed out that power hitters Will Allen and Sikes Orvis are a combined 0-12 in Omaha, I still would’ve gone with Bousfield.

I’m a sucker for OBP and runs, especially when noting who will/could be most effective against TCU. Alexander’s not going to give up any home runs in this park, and the Frogs’ defense has been absolutely stellar---especially with their back up against the wall. Lead-off doubles don’t effect this team much, because the combo of defense and pitching---more often than not---finds a way to work around the sporadic big hits.

But a second hole guy like Bousfield, who leads Ole Miss in batting average (.342), third in OBP (.392) and first in runs (58) is a kryptonite player for TCU. The Frogs did a solid job of shutting down Mike Papi the other night, but Bousfield is a guy who could get on base 3 or 4 times tonight, whether that’s driving the ball up the middle, or just simply getting a walk. He’s a perfect two-hole guy who becomes even deadlier when you factor in Ole Miss’ power 3 and 4 hitters, who should get a lot of chances to drive him in tonight.

Crystal Ball

Ole Miss Will Win If…

They jump on TCU early.

I hate repeating this, but we all know how damaging 3, 4, or even 5 runs would be for this team. Also, they’re going to need a big start from Sam Smith. He won’t give them too many innings, but he’s going to have to give his season’s best to compete with Alexander.

TCU Will Win If…

They don’t waste opportunities and get 3 or 4 runs…and HIT THE BALL UP THE MIDDLE. If Cron can’t hit a bomb here, there’s a very slim chance anyone else will. That’s key in this park. Up the middle, rinse, repeat…

Again, Alexander’s start against Pepperdine wasn’t his best. But if TCU gives him at least 2 or 3 runs, it should be enough security for the frosh. If Alexander gets the support, and goes the distance he’s capable of---Riley Ferrell would be the salt on the wound and give the Rebels a very small window to mount any sort of late comeback.    

Prediction: TCU 4, Ole Miss 2

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