College World Series: TCU vs. Tech Preview and Game Thread

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

TCU and Tech meet for the fifth time this year, but this time the stakes are a little bigger. Okay, *a lot* bigger...

This will be the fifth, yes fifth matchup between these two teams in 2014. In the four times that Tech and TCU played each other, they split the series, with the winning team dominating the respective game they won.

The Match-Up: Preston Morrison vs. Chris Sadberry

Sadberry vs. Morrison is an extremely intriguing match-up to kick off Omaha. Sadberry is more of a power pitcher, but he’s not going to give you a lot of innings. His career high for innings-pitched came just last week against College of Charleston in which he threw 8 in the win. The lefty attacked well in that game, and with a potentially lengthy duel against Morrison, Sadberry will have to be in the top form he was last week if he wants an effective start.

For TCU there are a couple advantages to throwing Morrison. For one, Morrison, more so than Finnegan, thrives on contact. With the way the Red Raiders swing the bats, a guy like Morrison is a better fit---because you know they’re going to make a lot of contact and put the ball in play a lot---thus you want someone who knows how to make that contact weak. Tech last saw the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year before his stride, and will see a much different Morrison on Sunday.

Secondly, as Schloss said the other day, you want to save Finnegan for a left-handed heavy Ole Miss or Virginia. Win or lose, the Horned Frogs will play one of these teams so it makes sense why they’d want to save Finnegan.

Name

Record

ERA

Strikeouts

Preston Morrison

9-4

1.32

85

Chris Sadberry

5-3

3.17

60

Impact Players

Tech’s Impact Player: Jonny Drozd

Eric Gutierrez’s is Tech’s best player, but Sunday, Tech’s impact player will be Jonny Drozd. Sadberry will likely go at most 7 innings and Tech’s going to need Drozd. If Tech’s up and Drozd’s goes in, it could lock up a Red Raider win quite quick.

TCU’s Impact Player: Riley Ferrell

Nicknames are meant to be changed, as Ferrell---baptized in the Kenny Powers holy water consisting of Miller High Life and the ashtray contents from Shabooms---has now been named “La Flama Blanca” aka the White Flame. TCU’s played it about as close to the chest as a team can these past two weeks and Ferrell has been the one to secure all the momentum. As one of the most dominant closers in the land, Ferrell’s been throwing heat in the upper 90s, but has yet to hit the triple-digits. Perhaps the Nebraska air and the big stage of the College World Series will bring something much scarier out of an already frightening pitcher. When he comes in, abandon all hope.

Underrated

Most Underrated Player On Texas Tech: Stephen Smith

For a team that scores quite a bit of runs; Smith has the highest OBP on the team, he has the most walks, and is second, behind Gutierrez, in runs scored. His high number of walks tells you that he’s a patient hitter and Morrison thrives more on the eager ones. While he may not get any hits off P-Mo, Smith will make him work more than anyone else on the Red Raider squad given the matchup.

Most Underrated Player On TCU: Dylan Fitzgerald

Fitz’s defense is spotty, but aside from Kevin “The Mountain” Cron, there’s no one that rakes on the time like he does. Fitzgerald, who had the big double in the comeback win against Pepperdine, nearly hit three or four homeruns in the series, he just hit them all to straight away center. Fitz’s tied for second in average right now on the TCU, he’s also third in OBP, and second in slugging.

Crystal Ball

Tech Will Win If…

Their bats jump out on Morrison early…we saw how effective that was for Pepperdine. Statistically, Tech comes into to Omaha as one of the better offensive teams, but that team cooled down significantly against a College of Charleston team who didn’t show up at all last weekend. Sadberry will have to pitch the best game of his life Sunday. Even with a Horned Frogs team struggling to score like Samwell Tarly, TCU always seems to find a way to pull it out and Sadberry can’t give TCU any slack.

Pepperdine learned that you could only beat this Horned Frog team if you put 3 or 4 runs on them in addition to throwing your best guy. Tech is not throwing their best guy, but if they put 5 runs, they could seal it just on that.

TCU Will Win If…

If they break the “LOB City”, it could be a rough day for Tech. The Horned Frogs are actually hitting just fine, maybe not as well as they’re capable of, but they’re hitting as well as they need to with their pitching. But hitting with RISP is another story. The Red Raiders have a very solid offense and TCU can’t afford to give up more than 4 runs in this game.

If P-Mo shows up like he has been in 95% of his games this year and TCU doesn’t LOB-city themselves and give him 3 or 4 runs to work with---then the Horned Frogs win the opener.

Prediction: TCU 3, Tech 1

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