One game at a time. That’s how Jim Schlossnagle does it. While it’s easy for fans to warg themselves into a Championship scenario, the TCU skipper is doing just fine playing it one game at a time. After all, this time last week, TCU was coming off of a 13-4 victory against Texas A&M, only to bested at their own game by a brilliant Matt Kent. TCU lost their Sunday game, and just about everyone watching sports last weekend saw how the Monday Marathon ended. The point is, it’s never over. It’s a somewhat silly thing to say because everyone who watches sports knows this, but as Frog fans it was easy to get ahead of ourselves after last Saturday’s crushing game in Fort Worth.
Note: Thanks to Andrew Felts for the graphics
Think of the College World Series as a reset. Whatever happened to the Frogs the past couple of weeks--late inning losses to NC State, only to be the beneficiary of their collapse two days after, or 16-inning marathon games--no longer matter, at least until the end. The dramatic narrative means nothing unless TCU completes its quest.
And in the spirit of resets; it doesn’t matter that LSU hasn’t hit the ball particularly well the past few weeks. They won their Super Regional outright against a very good Louisiana-Lafayette team, and there’s possibly no team as balanced as the Tigers in the College World Series, and thus, obviously, in the entire country. In addition to winning their Super Regional outright, the No. 2 National Seed Tigers, who at this point, I think we can all agree should’ve been the No. 1 seed, breezed through their Regional unscathed as well. LSU have won 30 of their last 35 games and; in their last three losses, two of which have been by one run, and the other was by 3 to South Carolina a month ago.
But TCU has a not-so-secret weapon for Sunday; they’re just using it a surprising time. Preston Morrison has been the face of TCU pitching pretty much the entirety of his career. He came to Fort Worth as a wiry walk-on from a Charlotte suburb, and is leaving with all its records, as well as one of the most decorated athletes in Frog history.
So, to TCU fans and certainly my delight, Morrison, who looks to be the cinnamon to the LSU Tiger, will start the game Sunday. There are a few reasons for this. Morrison has never won a game in the postseason, mainly because he’s (usually) always thrown into the second game. The most notable exception being last year’s opener against Tech in the College World Series in which Morrison earned the no-decision in a TCU win. Morrison’s sinker is a thing of beauty, and his overall approach is the Frogs’ best option to take down a trigger happy offense like LSU. He pitches, they swing, and the plan is for the ball to go nowhere. Any notion that this game will be a blowout on either side, especially with Morrison pitching, is very ill-advised. The plan is for a boxing match, and Morrison plus TCU’s superior bullpen looks to ensure that. Also, should TCU win, they’ll likely play Vanderbilt, unless Cal State Fullerton pulls an upset. The Commodores have already seen, and lost to Morrison, back in March.
And an interesting boxing match it should be. The Frogs come into Omaha with the Nation’s second best ERA at 2.38 (knocked-out UCLA holds the #1). The Frogs spent most of the season bouncing around the Top 5, and even reaching the top for a few weeks. The depth of not only their Top 4, but also their brilliant bullpen, have kept TCU dominating every major pitching category in the country. The Frogs haven’t quite seen an offense like LSU this year, however. The Tigers have only one player in their starting lineup who’s hitting below .300, and that guy, Jared Foster, has 9 home runs on the year.
You won’t find many lineups with one guy like Alex Bregman (.312/.406/.534), Chris Cenia (.355/.386/.559), and especially a leader behind the plate, Kade Scivicque (.347/.391/.518). LSU has three of them, and then some. Just looking at their numbers warrants obtaining an airplane prescription of xanax. The Tigers on the bump are a force too. They’re a Top 10 team, albeit tenth, in ERA (2.84). The Frogs will have a lefty matchup in that of Jared Poche (9-1, 2.91 ERA) who was a really solid three pitch combo, and like Morrison, thrives in combat. Also like Morrison, Poche keeps his opponent’s BA low, at .249. But thankfully, for TCU, not quite as low as their standout freshman, Alex Lange (.214).
Should come down to a boxing match, even if you’re an SEC diehard, you have to like TCU’s chances. The aggressive and tactical base-running is one thing, but having options like Brian Trieglaff, and course; the brilliant 1-2 combination of Trey Teakell and Riley Ferrell is as good as gets. Should it come down to Ferrell, and should he emerge to the Ferrell of old, TCU stands a pretty damn good chance at shutting LSU up and going with some solid momentum, presumably against a third straight SEC opponent in Vanderbilt.