Vanderbilt needed a clutch ninth-inning rally to advance to the happy side of the 2015 College World Series bracket. TCU's win wasn't nearly as dramatic - but just as emphatic.
After a pair of big victories each team stands one game from locking down a spot in college baseball's final four. The Commodores capped off an improbable comeback when Jeren Kendall's line drive cleared the right field fence to lift Vandy past Cal State Fullerton on Monday afternoon. They did not lead for a single minute of that game until the final pitch was thrown. TCU, on the other hand, hasn't played from behind since arriving in Omaha.
TCU will come into this game with some well-earned confidence. The Horned Frogs trounced #2 LSU 10-3 on Sunday, taking advantage of a flurry of Tiger mistakes to advance to tonight's matchup. They also have a 4-2 victory over the Commodores on the books - but that win came more than three months ago.
They toppled Vanderbilt in Dodger Stadium to notch a major out-of-conference win back in March. TCU hung one run on Walker Buehler (four innings) and three more on Philip Pfeifer (five) to squeeze past a Commodore team that managed 10 baserunners but only a pair of runs. If Vandy wants to win on Tuesday, they'll need a bigger contribution from the batters outside the heart of their order. Rhett Wiseman, Dansby Swanson, and Zander Wiel went 6-11 that day; the rest of the team combined to go 2-22.
The Frogs will get a second crack at Pfeifer tonight when he takes the mound. The Commodores' Saturday starter is 2-0 this postseason but his four runs allowed against Indiana are more than any other Vandy pitcher has given up in a single game in the NCAA Tournament. He'll duel against TCU lefty Alex Young in a battle of veteran southpaws.
Tonight's first pitch is slated for 7:05pm CST. You can watch the game live on ESPN or listen to Joe Fisher's educated voice on 95.9 FM or online at VUCommodores.com. And, as always, you can join us in the comments below to discuss how many of your children you plan on naming Jeren.
Vanderbilt: Philip Pfeifer (5-4, 4.09 ERA, 105 Ks in 83.2 innings)
TCU: Alex Young (9-2, 2.31 ERA, 91 Ks in 89.2 innings)