Sunday night, TCU will be gunning for their second CWS appearance, and first since 2010. Saturday's 3-2 box score doesn't necessarily tell the whole tale---because aside from one two-run shot, TCU was its usual dominant self from the mound. Brandon Finnegan showed everyone why he was a first rounder, Trey Teakell made 95% of the teams from around the country wish he was in their starting three, and Riley Ferrell is showing why he's part Mariano Rivera and part La Flama Blanca.
The only barrier between the Frogs and Omaha is Pepperdine's best player, center-fielder, and ace pitcher, Aaron Brown. It's no secret as to why Brown didn't get matched up against Finnegan. TCU, with the momentum of their home crowd, and a dominating pitcher who feeds off that crowd better than anyone else on the team, is now 31-3 since April 1st and there isn't any indication of the train losing stream.
It makes sense in theory; lose the first game with your best pitcher and you're royally screwed in an elimination game. In a lot of ways, Aaron Brown is Pepperdine's Finnegan from a pitching standpoint---he doesn't have as good of velocity as Finny does, but he gets a high number of strikeouts (8.35 K/9 and 29th in the country in total strikeouts with 101)
Brown's other numbers are intimidating, (12-1, 2.07 ERA)---but it's nothing TCU should be afraid of. TCU's seen some of the Nation's best pitching already this year---most notably a Texas team that just punched their ticket to Omaha and whom the Frogs swept in Austin in mid-April. It's also not much of a secret that TCU plays better in higher-stakes games---mowing down Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Tournament title, a thrilling marathon of a game against Sam Houston, and the game to close it out the next night, despite the Bearkats being hellbent on "revenge". Bottom line, it takes a lot to bring this ballclub down.
Big time win. Unreal atmosphere at lupton! Bring it again tomorrow! #Slaphands— Kevin Cron (@TcuCron00) June 8, 2014
I love numbers, and TCU's most important number yesterday was 5,094---the relationship between this team and this fanbase is reciprocal. They feed off each other and there was no better indication of that than last week against Sam Houston State. After the "controversial" call and the brawl that nearly followed, the crowd woke up from the dreamlike state and TCU tacked on the winning run the following inning.
Aaron Brown's low to mid-90s velocity is just the kind of pitching that TCU thrives on too. Yes, they don't score a lot of runs, but it's also a team that doesn't need to. The Frogs haven't lost a 3-run lead in their latest surge and it's doubtful they will the rest of 2014. Watching TCU games is a like getting a root-canal from a top-rated dentist; your fists are clinched the entire time, it's slow and painful---but you still know it's going to work itself out. Like Ian Malcolm's chaos theory babble in Jurassic Park, TCU baseball, like life---always finds a way. (It should also be noted that capitalist-turned-naturalist John Hammond used frog DNA to fill the sequence gaps in order to create the dinosaurs---he also spared no expense).
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Preston Morrison, who's 7th in the Nation in ERA (1.24), now holds the best ERA in the tournament. There's not a better candidate for TCU to potentially close out the series and return to Omaha than P-Mo, as the Waves will likely have to score 3 or 4 runs to even be in contention.
TCU plays at 5pm on ESPNU. The game has been flexed to ESPN2. Same time.
"If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh... well, there it is."-Ian Malcolm