For TCU to make it to the College World Series Final it won’t come down to any brain-hurting tie-breakers or run-differential scenarios, they still technically control their own destiny in this tournament.
The CWS double-elimination format isn’t as quirky as World Cup pool play where points are awarded to teams that don’t win a game and advancing to the knock-out round comes down to goal differentials and the final score of other games in many instances. “A win’s a win” simply isn’t accurate in the World’s Game.
Maybe that’s why baseball is still America’s Game, at least the type of baseball still played in Omaha every summer, and soccer is only somewhat relevant to this country once every four years. No ties, no goal differential, no clock. Just nine innings, one team eventually ends up on top.
TCU must win three-straight games starting at 6 p.m. tonight to get to the CWS Final, and five out of six games to win the whole shebang.
“One thing we talked about out there in right field (after Monday’s loss) is the crazy thing about this tournament is you can lose two games and still win a national championship,” said TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle. “You just can’t lose any more between now and the championship series.
“We’ve used our Mulligan. Now we have to play with our backs against the wall in the corner, and we’re a much better club when we’re in that scenario.”
For the remainder of the CWS it’s going to come down to only player on the field playing with his back against the wall, and that’s whoever is on the pitching mound for the Frogs.
Schlossnagle said it didn’t matter how confident the rest of his team was on the field, if the pitcher isn’t confident on the mound, he’d make the rest of the team look bad, regardless.
South Carolina proved that pitching truly is king in the CWS. The Gamecocks knocked off top-seeded Arizona State, a darn good team known for digging insurmountable holes for their opponents by scoring runs in bunches. Pitching won that battle.
Texas outscored TCU 16-to-eight in the Austin Super Regional. TCU’s pitching was better two games out of three, however, and while the 14-run flurry the Longhorns put up in Game 2 may have helped in a FIFA-style tournament, it meant nothing in the best-of-three format.
The Frogs scored the same amount of runs (three) in their Game 1 Super Regional win against UT as their CWS loss to UCLA. In their Game 3 win against the ‘Horns they put up four runs compared to eight runs against Florida State in the first game of the CWS.
The more important numbers in each game was how many runs their opponent scored. One run for Texas in Game 1 and 3 of the Super Regional, one run for FSU in Game 1 of the CWS. Six runs for UCLA in TCU’s first CWS defeat. TCU has held their opponents to three runs combined in their wins since advancing from the Fort Worth Regional. In their losses, they’ve held UT and UCLA to 20 runs combined.
The better pitcher will win the game in the NCAA postseason. 14 runs are as good as two runs as long as the opponent is held to one run. A win is a win.
“We haven’t had too many extended (losing) streaks during the season,” Schlossnagle said. “I know all the teams here have good starting pitching, but when you have good starting pitching it’s hard to go on too much of a losing streak.”
At least the Frogs know the tournament they are playing in Omaha isn’t the same format as the one being played in South Africa simultaneously. Just win (three straight games, that is).
And maybe Schlossnagle’s Good Pitching Theory gets TCU a win tonight, but UCLA is waiting for its challenger in the Bracket 1 Final; their opponent will have to beat them twice to get to the CWS Final. The Bruins also have good starting pitching, and it’s going to be hard for them to go on much of a losing streak also.