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Red Raiders face familiar foe at College World Series

Tech faces TCU at 2 p.m. Sunday in Game 3 of the College World Series

Posted: June 14, 2014 - 10:43pm  |  Updated: June 15, 2014 - 12:20am
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Texas Tech's Stephen Smith swings during practice on Friday in Omaha. (Zach Long)  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech's Stephen Smith swings during practice on Friday in Omaha. (Zach Long)
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OMAHA, Neb. — The verbal barbs flew back and forth.

Neither coach wanted to paint their own team as the favorite.

“Tim’s team is very, very deep,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I really like (his pitching staff) because they can do a lot of different things relative to who they’re playing or whatever the matchup is at home plate.

“Honestly with that pitching staff, he probably shouldn’t lose a game here.”

To that, Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock could only laugh.

The TCU pitching staff, which the Red Raiders will face at 2 p.m. today at TD Ameritrade Park in Game 3 of the College World Series, has an impressive 2.19 team ERA and a trio of aces in Brandon Finnegan, Preston Morrison and Tyler Alexander — none of whom has an ERA higher than 2.16 (Alexander).

“Can we compare numbers now? Because they say numbers don’t lie, right?” Tadlock said. “You’ve got just good arm after good arm. It’s really impressive what kind of staff they’ve put together.”

Morrison, who has a 1.32 ERA with 1221/3 innings pitched, 85 strikeouts and a 0.85 WHIP, is slated to start for TCU in the fifth game this season between the two clubs.

The Horned Frogs (47-16) won the first game 9-0, Tech (45-19) won the middle two by a combined 22-4 and then TCU won the fourth (a non-conference game in Abilene) 4-0.

“All those guys, again, kind of like what he said about our guys, he’s got a power guy in the left-hander in Finnegan, and then Morrison is kind of — how do you explain Morrison?” Tadlock said. “I don’t know really how you explain him other than he can really pitch and he has a lot of deception.”

Tech counters with junior left-hander Chris Sadberry, who won the third game between the two teams.

Sadberry pitched five innings, gave up four hits and only one run in the 12-2 win. Sadberry is 5-3 on the year with a 3.17 ERA.

Sadberry and the Red Raider starting pitchers will attempt to extend a 36-inning scoreless streak that began in the Coral Gables Regional against Miami and lasted through two more shutouts against the College of Charleston in the Super Regional in Lubbock.

“I’ve said all year long that Tech’s pitching staff is, I don’t know if underrated is the right word, but we’ve been very aware of how talented they are, not just Sadberry,” Schlossnagle said. “I have phenomenal respect for them, as well, but mostly their bullpen, Jonny Drozd and Cam(eron) Smith, those guys seem like all-time pitchers.”

Meanwhile, Morrison pitched in the Horned Frogs’ 10-2 loss on March 22.

It was one of his most ineffective games of the season. He lasted two innings, giving up six hits and four runs.

“Yeah I remember him. A side-armer I think?” said Tech first baseman Eric Gutierrez, who had an RBI double in the win over Morrison and TCU. “So, we are pretty comfortable and I am sure they are too. It is going to be a good game.”

Despite the poor outing against Tech earlier this season, Schlossnagle chose Morrison to start over power-pitcher Finnegan, who has a 2.12 ERA with 127 strikeouts in only 97 innings and carries a 0.98 WHIP into the CWS.

But no matter who is on the mound, Tadlock said pitching is going to dominate at the College World Series.

“At this point in the year, whoever you face, they’re going to have some pitching,” he said. “But I do think you’ve got to go back and look at the numbers, because the deal about not losing a game, I don’t know about all that carrying on.”

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College World Series

Two sons are Red Raiders like me. Two daughter-in-laws are Horn Frogs. In this case, family relations are on hold! Go Tech.

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