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FSU Seminoles vs TCU Horned Frogs: Game Preview

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For the 20th time in university history the Florida State Seminoles earned a berth in the College World Series.  In the Noles first game of the tournament they will be facing the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University who are making their first ever appearance in Omaha. 

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Inside we will preview the Horned Frogs and the Noles and see how each team matches up.

Mountain West Conference:

The MWC is not a team full of good baseball schools, in fact it is full with a bunch of bad ones.  Carrying only 7 teams it currently stands at #10 in the WarrenNolan RPI rankings that that is due largely in part to the success of TCU.  Their competition consisted of 5 schools within the MWC that have a RPI of 100 or worse.

In the 24 conference games played this season only 3 of TCU's game came against an opponent with an RPI of 100 or better (New Mexico, 53).  In the 39 other games played by the Frogs' 16 were against teams with a RPI of 50 or better and 25 were against teams with a RPI of 100 or better.   For that very reason we will be focusing more closely on the performances that TCU has had against their out of conference opponents.

Pitching Preview:

The performances below do include the postseason where TCU pitching has not let up and continued to pitch strong.  In their 8 postseason games they have an ERA of 2.38 and a K:BB ratio of 3.25.

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By now I am sure you have heard that great staff at TCU is led by an ace freshman who walked away from being the 14th overall pick in the draft to play college ball. 

Also watch: LHP Matt Purke Sorry, Rangers fans. He would've been expensive to sign away from college last year, but it probably would've been worth it. Purke was one of the best pitchers in college baseball this year, striking out more than 11 per nine innings. Particularly nasty are his numbers against lefties: 82 batters faced, slash line against of .198/.280/.247, and 35 strikeouts. - THT

It has been said all season that the Noles can only go as far as this pitching staff will allow them.

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Credit to the Noles though as they have pitched better come playoff time in thanks to a group of pitchers that Mike Martin trusts.

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Also watch: OF/RHP Mike McGee. He was selected by the Diamondbacks with pick No. 1,231, which drastically understates his value to Florida State. As a regular in the field, he's hit 15 home runs and a four-digit OPS; as closer, he's held opponents to four earned runs in 26 innings. - THT

The Florida State pitching staff has done a good job of limiting big innings and keeping this team in games letting the offense do what they do best.  A major concern if the Noles expect to make a legitimate run is depth, in the 3 Super Regional games Mike Martin used only 5 pitchers with only 1 of them pitching longer than 4.2 innings. 

Offensive Preview:

This TCU offense is good, really good.  Their overall performance is inflated due to the terrible pitching in the MWC but as you can see below when you strip away the poor competition this is still an offense that should be feared.

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Draftee to watch: C Bryan Holaday. He hardly rates as an elite college player-drafted 193rd by the Tigers-but Holaday is a key cog in the Frogs offense and an absolute monster behind the plate. He's a senior, making him the NCAA equivalent of a crusty veteran, and he plays like one. In a good way. - THT

The past two series saw offenses that were below league average and not a threat to put a big inning, this team is and in a hitters park they could really take advantage of poor pitching.

All year the Noles hitting has been the great, rarely going into slumps for more than 1 or 2 games and again their offense is one of the best in the conference.

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Draftee to watch: CF Tyler Holt. Popped in the 10th round, Holt was actually the third Seminole selected last week, but as regular readers know, I strongly believe he should've gone eight rounds earlier. He's an elite defender, a top-notch base-stealer, and you can hardly complain about the 1.095 OPS. Capture the magic in real time. - THT (2 linked articles regarding Holt are worth the read)

The Florida State offense has continued to show that they can hit good pitching ball clubs as Oregon and Vanderbilt have two of the best staffs in the nation.  Unfortunately for the Noles this isn't a 3 game series and they will have to face one of the best pitchers in baseball, putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard would be a great achievement for this team.

Side Notes:

As far as intangibles are concerned I think they are overrated.  Fresno State winning it all was a long shot and that rarely ever happens when good teams get together.  The fact that FSU players and coaches have been here before also holds little weight.  TCU just beat one of the best teams in the nation, they have really good players, and they know how to win.

For Florida State to make a run they are going to have to do something that they haven't done all year.  They are going to have to pitch like an elite ball team.

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There is obviously a lot more factors that go into a good pitching staff than just ERA but it is pretty telling to see how successful pitching thrives in the College World Series.  Strong pitching is well represented this year in Omaha. 

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Coverage:

Saturday, June 19th -  2PM

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD

Radio: Listen Live

Internet Feed: ESPN3

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See everyone back here tomorrow for a Live Game Thread

Go Noles!