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Frogs o' War Helps Break Down Tonight's Vanderbilt/TCU College World Series Game

Vanderbilt and TCU met back in March, but both teams have grown since the Horned Frogs took home a 4-2 victory at Dodger Stadium. We got in touch with Marshall Weber of Frogs o' War to help us break down tonight's College World Series matchup.

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Tonight's College World Series matchup between Vanderbilt and #7 TCU will be a rematch - one that Commodore fans hope winds up differently than the first meeting.

The Horned Frogs won that one 4-2, hanging three runs on Tuesday starter Philip Pfeifer in the process. Vandy got limited contributions from their 5-9 batters and lost their #1 ranking in the process. Now, they'll have a chance to right that wrong when they square off with the Frogs in Omaha.

To get a better idea of what TCU has in store for this CWS showdown, I enlisted the help of Marshall Weber. Mr. Weber is an Associate Editor of Frogs o' War, SB Nation's awesomely-named TCU blog. He was kind enough to answer my questions about what the Horned Frogs have in store for Vanderbilt now that a final four bid is on the line.

1. TCU beat Vanderbilt 4-2 on a similarly big neutral field (Dodger Stadium) back in March. The Horned Frogs also faced each of Vandy's probable starters for tonight's matchup in that game [EDIT: since writing this preview, Vanderbilt announced that Philip Pfeifer will be starting]. What type of psychological advantage does that provide for the team and TCU's fans?

Marshall Weber, Frogs o' War: That was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning; Walker Buehler or Phillip Pfeifer. Like you said, the Frogs saw both of them in March, and had better success of the lefty, Pfeifer. It's an interesting debate. You're likely to lean on a lefty against a team that's aggressive on the basepath like TCU. But, as Jared Poche, learned the hard way, TCU's going to make you pay for your mistakes. So I believe that the real psychological advantage for the team is just knowing the type of damage you can do when your opponent makes an error, or whatyouhave you. I feel like if you're a Vandy fan, you can drive yourself crazy trying to decide between Buehler or Pfieffer.

2. TCU held Vandy to two runs in that game behind a solid effort from Preston Morrison - but they won't see him tonightsince he started the team's last game. Who will be taking the mound for the Horned Frogs, and what can we expect from him? [EDIT: since writing this preview, TCU announced that Alex Young will be starting]

MW: Speaking of driving one's self crazy; the starting rotation for TCU in tournament time can do that. Like Vandy in the past 7 or 8 years, TCU's fortunate enough to have the best problem a college baseball team can have: too many good pitchers. To me, it's just looking like the inevitable: a lefty vs lefty matchup. So that means either Pfeifer vs. either Alex Young or Tyler Alexander. The former arguably had the best season from start to finish as he adjusted brilliantly after being promoted to a weekend starter, filling Brandon Finnegan's spot. The latter, Alexander, who was a freshman phenom in 2014, had a rocky start in 2015. He overcame it, and pitched one of the best games of his TCU career two weeks ago in the NC State game.

As well as Vandy hits the ball, I'd expect to to see Alex Young. This isn't a shot on Alexander, who has less than 5 walks this season, but he tends to pitch to contact, and even in a pitcher's ballpark like TD Ameritrade, I don't think you want to take that chance.

3. Like Cal State Fullerton, TCU has been defined by strong pitching and low scoring affairs. What's the minimum number of runs the Frogs would have to score for TCU fans to be comfortable with a win heading into the final three innings?

MW: That's a really good question. Maybe a month ago I would've said one. By all means, Riley Ferrell made a big step forward in terms of a return against LSU--striking out the side in the 9th. But he's also the reason TCU was forced into an elimination game against NC State, as well as that marathon against Texas A&M. Hell, even after the Baylor-TCU (football) game in November, I don't really feel comfortable with any lead in sports, ever. But I think most TCU fans would feel content with a 3. As good as TCU's bullpen is, namely Trey Teakell, and just their endless options, really, it's just really hard to score against the Frogs from the starter until Ferrell comes in--so yeah, in a lot of ways, 2 or 3 runs is a nice cushion.

4. The Horned Frogs have played the maximum amount of games needed to get to this stage of the NCAA Tournament. They've also added nine extra innings into the mix, putting them at the equivalent of 10 postseason games compared to Vanderbilt's six. Has fatigue been a problem for this team so far in June?

MW: Not really. As many seniors as we have, these guys are so used to playing a lot of strenuous baseball. Last year's team, whose Omaha run ended against Ole Miss, saw 8 of their final 9 games end as one run games. So as a team, that not only still pitches really well, but also has a better offense to a take a little pressure off of that pitching, I'm sure they're not sweating it as much as they were last year...