How to Watch:
7:00 PM | ESPN | KTCU 88.7 | SiriusXM 84 | Watch ESPN
How They Got Here:
TCU bounced back from an opening game loss to Florida to win their next three, defeating Texas A&M, Louisville, and Florida over the course of four days.
The Gators won their first two games, against the Frogs and Cardinals, before falling to TCU Friday night by a 9-2 score.
Alex Faedo (8-2, 2.40 ERA, 146 Ks in 116.1 innings)
Jared Janczak (9-1, 2.19 ERA, 95 Ks in 86.1 innings)
It’s very likely going to come down to the starters once again tonight, as JJ looks to bounce back from a subpar - by his standards - performance Sunday night. Janczak survived just 4.0 innings in the CWS opener for both teams, allowing three runs on six hits while walking five and striking out four. TCU’s ace will need to be much sharper Saturday, as he faces a subpar Florida offense that hasn’t been able to manufacture much in Omaha. The Frogs will be without their best bullpen arm, as Sean Wymer was burned up Thursday, but still have closer Durbin Feltman available, likely for multiple innings. Chuck King’s performance last night also keeps Cal Coughlin and Haylen Green fresh and available. Outside of that, Brian Howard could conceivably pitch and inning or two, but that would be less than ideal. Mitchell Traver and Nick Lodolo are out.
Florida chose to go with one of their less-heralded starters last night, but fell behind early enough, and by enough runs, to keep their big guns out of the lineup. Should Faedo, who had double digit strikeouts the first time he faced the Frogs, scuffle at all, the Gators can turn to closer Michael Byrne for extended work, and could foreseeably bring in #2 starter Brady Singer from the pen if needed. Tyler Dyson is another big strikeout guy who should be plenty fresh.
TCU finally broke open yesterday, getting the kind of production from the top of the lineup that they have come to expect. Wade, Humphreys, and Skoug combined to go 5-13 with seven RBIs, two walks, and three runs scored. Elliott Barzilli and Josh Watson had a pair of hits each, and Ryan Merrill continued his hometown hot streak with a hit and a run scored.
Not a strong offensive team in general, the Gators were quiet again Friday, save a solo home run and a couple of strung together hits that put two on the board. They have scored just ten runs in three games at the College World Series, and don’t have the bats to keep up with a TCU team playing team offense like they did a night ago. No UF player had more than a single hit, and as a team they managed just five against the combination of Traver-King-Brown-Morris. TCU’s 11 strikeouts against them were one more than Florida had on the Frogs, but most of that damage was done by the first seven batters on the game. The Gators left eight men on base and stole just one bag.
The Frogs have played their best with their backs against the wall this week, and seem to be the looser, more confident team overall. It’s so eerily similar to what happened a year ago, though the roles are reversed, and it’s Florida, not the Frogs, feeling all the pressure to advance.
The bottom of the order has been solid for TCU in Omaha, but last night, we were reminded how good this lineup is when the top is performing up to their ability. Alex Faedo presents a whole new set of problems for them, but having seen them just a few days ago, nothing should surprise the Frog hitters. JJ, on the other hand, has not been seen by Florida - at least not the same JJ we expect to see when he takes the mound. He will be better tonight, no doubt.
It won’t be a blowout, and it will come down to a timely walk or a big hit to win and advance. But I sure do like the energy TCU is playing with the last few days. Let’s do it again. NEGU.