Neither the Florida Gators nor the TCU Horned Frogs have ever won a college baseball title before. These schools have been to Omaha often enough in recent years, but neither one has been able to crash through and claim its first championship. Florida is likely to be the favorite in the opener, but TCU should have more crowd support being that the distance is much shorter. The final game of the opening set could be quite a doozy.
This game will take place at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 18, 2017. It will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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It’s hard to get any better than what the Gators will bring to the mound on Sunday. Alex Faedo was just selected in the first-round of the MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers and will now try to bring a title to Gainesville before he leaves campus.
Faedo has been the ace of the staff all season long and has ramped up his pitching this postseason. He was already putting up great numbers, with a 2.55 ERA and 135 strikeouts this season, but he has been phenomenal in the playoffs too.
Thus far in the postseason, Faedo has been lights out. He has allowed just one run in 13 innings of work and led his team to two wins.
TCU is going to respond with an ace of its own. Jared Janczak has gotten healthy just in time for the Horned Frogs. Janczak was shut down for a few weeks because of shoulder soreness back in April and has looked like his old self ever since he returned.
He is 9-0 over his 13 starts and is striking out over a batter an inning. Unlike other strikeout pitchers who are somewhat susceptible to power hitters, he has been able to limit extra-base hits as well. In 82.1 innings of action, Janczak has allowed just eight extra-base hits.
Maybe the most impressive thing is how few hits he allows. Janczak has given up the second-fewest hits per nine innings of any starter in college baseball.
Hitters to Watch
Florida has relied on its pitching staff more than its hitters all season long. Only two Gators are hitting .300 or better this season, but this team has been great at drawing walks. Six different UF players drew 20 or more walks this year.
Nelson Maldonado was the chief among those. He walked an impressive 49 times this season and with just 22 strikeouts was extremely efficient at the plate. Maldonado doesn’t have a lot of power, but can get on base at least.
There’s no denying that Evan Skoug has a ton of power. Skoug has a .562 slugging percentage this year and 20 of his 67 hits have been home runs. However, he has been feast or famine. He has a shocking 87 strikeouts in 242 at-bats so don’t be surprised to see Gators pitchers test his plate discipline.
This TCU team loves to steal bases. As a whole, the Horned Frogs have swiped 102 bases on 123 attempts and are as efficient as they come in that regard. Nolan Brown leads the way with 26 steals on 28 attempts thus far.
College World Series ATS Pick
J.J. Schwarz is going to be an X-Factor for the Gators in this one. He is the one Gator that has real power and has double the number of home runs as his next closest teammate.
Defense and pitching carry the day at this stage, so back the Gators. Florida has a major advantage in the bullpen and will be able to use that against TCU. Although both starting pitchers will go late in the game, TCU only has one or two good relievers. Bet on Florida to pull away late as a result.
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