Jaws was released in 1975. Its director, Steven Spielberg was 29. LeBron James has been to 5 NBA Finals, won two of them, and has won a handful awards in process. James turns 30 in December. The 29 thing is a coincidence, but what I'm getting at is that great things are done at an early age. Tyler Alexander could very well do a great thing at a young age this afternoon as TCU's fate is now on his shoulders.
After dropping the second game to the Waves, TCU returns to the diamond for an elimination game this afternoon in Fort Worth. The TCU offense was an anomaly last night--they hit the ball, but they couldn't capitalize on the runs they very desperately needed to get. Aaron Brown, Pepperdine's man of many masks was the sole nail in the coffin for TCU. The Frogs didn't have an answer for Brown as a pitcher, they didn't have one for Brown the hitter, and as Brown had the perfect throw to home that denied TCU the tying run, they didn't have answer for the fielder either. Though it was harder to look at in those horrendous Three Kings-esque uniforms, Brown's game presence, particularly on the mound, was as brilliant as TCU's faced all year.
Fortunately for the Frogs, Brown won't be pitching today, as the Waves will throw sophomore righty, Jackson McLelland. McLelland isn't a terribly fancy pitcher, with a 3.54 ERA and only 47 strikeouts, he's far from what the TCU offense saw yesterday against Brown. However, McLelland was able to get the win over Cal Poly last weekend (amid three earned runs) as the Waves got out of the regional as a very underrated three-seed.
Despite McLelleand's ERA, the Frogs can't be the Frogs of yesterday. Yes, Brown had a dominating mound presence and TCU couldn't lay off his tempting high-and-outside cheddar, but the Frogs still tested him---they tested him as well as you can test a pitcher of that caliber---except they couldn't capitalize. The Frogs found some luck when Brown wasn't on the mound, even though it was mostly thanks to some errors, and were able to get some momentum going---so maybe that could be a good sign for Schloss' club today.
TCU's biggest weapon today will be none other than Tyler Alexander---who as of late, has been outshining both a Top-20 Draft pick and the Big 12 pitcher of the Year. Yeah, it's not a bad thing when that guy's your third starter.
It hasn't always been this way from the freshman. Right before TCU's surge, Alexander was demoted to the bullpen after a loss against Oklahoma State. After Alex Young failed to fill the void, and was thus pulled after the Kansas series, Alexander returned to form in the Texas sweep---which was TCU's breakout moment for 2014.
Alexander has some dirty stuff in his arsenal, but what's keeping him so consistent are his K/BB ratio (5.18) and WHIP (.94) which rank 29th and 24th respectively. Those stats don't paint the whole picture of who Alexander's been lately though. Through the last month, he's been the crown jewel of the TCU starting three, and aside from maybe Riley Ferrell, he's been the deadliest asset in the entire staff.
While it may be scary, Alexander is the best man for the job today. Jordan Kipper was an outstanding mid-week starter, but his resume hasn't been as impressive. Alexander's rise has been going for some time now, the wunderkind showed up big and closed out a Big 12 Championship for TCU against Oklahoma State, and shutdown an eager Sam Houston State that clinched the Regional two Sundays ago as well. As a sidenote, both were complete games. The Frogs' offense seems to respond well when Alexander's on the mound too---outscoring opponents 56-12 since the Texas sweep in games in which Alexander makes the start.
Depending on the weather, TCU and Pepperdine's fate will be decided this afternoon at 3 and because of the bs that is the coin-flip rule, the Frogs will be the away team...
I have faith that Alexander will keep a low-pitch count and spread his pitches around like he has so successfully during his last 8 starts. Now it's just a matter of whether or not he'll get the support