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TCU Baseball Preview: #1 Vanderbilt

So, uh, the Commodores are really good.

NCAA BASEBALL: Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
JJ Bleday and the Commodores have been mashing in the dessert.
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Salt Rivers Stadium — Scottsdale, Ariz.

First pitch: 12:00 p.m. CT

Radio: 87.7 FM KTCU

Live Stats Feed:

Projected TCU starter: Brandon Williamson (Junior LHP, 0-0)

Projected Vanderbilt starter: Kumar Rocker (Freshman RHP, 0-0)

Here’s the bad news: Vanderbilt has scored 29 runs through two games during the MLB4 Tournament this weekend.

But, here’s the good news: they’ve allowed 18.

TCU’s offense has been hit and miss... Friday night against Fullerton, it was mostly miss, but the bats woke up at the right time for the Horned Frogs Saturday night, as they dropped nine runs on the Cavaliers. But the pitching has been as good as expected - the starters allowed just three runs in their first two games, though the bullpen got a little wild against UVA, issuing three walks after Janczak left in the fifth. Despite their struggles Friday, the Frogs managed some crooked numbers Saturday, and looked more like the fluid, explosive lineup we expected to see going into the season. Speedy and opportunistic, TCU ran themselves into and out of some runs over the first two games, but certainly put pressure on opposing defenses to make plays.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, just chose to hit the ball all over the park - mashing their way to all of those runs by virtue of the long ball and extra base hits. Three home runs, six doubles, and two triples while drawing 15 walks will certainly get the job done. The Commodores struck out 17 times and went 0-2 in the stolen base department, but it didn’t seem to matter much.

Pitching was another story for Vandy, though, as they bumbled their way to a 9.00 ERA through the first two games, allowing 18 runs on 19 hits, including four triples and two home runs. They did strikeout 16 batters, but also issued 13 walks. The Frogs haven’t had a hard time collecting hits in Arizona, but the timely hits haven’t always been there. If they want to knock off #1, they’ll need to take advantage of runners in scoring position and create some offense with some effective, aggressive base running.

The X-Factor Sunday will be speed - the area the Frogs certainly have the biggest advantage in. Williamson is an unknown for the Frogs on the mound, but has all the talent in the world if he’s back to 100%. Rocker is unknown and untested as a true freshman, but the Gatorade Player of the Year is a top flight MLB prospect. It will come down to TCU’s arms to limit the explosive Vandy O, while the Frogs will need to score timely runs when opportunities present themselves.

It’s another early test for TCU, who looks to come out of the weekend with a winning record before making their home debut Tuesday.