Virginia CWS Cheering Guide: Thursday

The Hoos will be favored against whoever wins tonight, but that doesn't mean we can't prefer one team. - Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoos (and their fans) can sit comfortably tonight and watch Ole Miss and TCU play. The Hoos will face the winner of that game tomorrow night. Let's take a look at the two options and determine which team the Hoos would prefer to play.

We've refrained from doing cheering guides because of two factors. One is the somewhat peculiar circumstances of a double elimination tournament and the other is simply the nature of baseball. A great pitcher can have a bad outing, and an average pitcher can throw a perfect game (see Larson, Don).

But now that the series has progressed a little bit, it's become simpler. The "losers bracket" game today pits our two previous opponents, Ole Miss and TCU in an elimination game. The loser goes home. The winner faces us again tomorrow.

It seems likely that both Ole Miss and TCU will use their top starters today. They are in a must-win game and those pitchers haven't thrown since Sunday. (Technically, it's short rest, but it's not too bad. Especially for TCU, who played early on Sunday.)

That means we're almost definitely facing either team's third starter tomorrow. For Mississippi, that is junior righty Sam Smith. For TCU, that is freshman lefty Tyler Alexander. Let's compare them:

(Ed. Note: Both teams have announced that they are using their 3rd starters today. This means that we will be facing either team's #1 starter. The chart below, as well as the rest of the column has been updated to reflect this new information. This new information does not change our decision.)

Pitcher

Record

ERA

WHIP

BAA

K/9

BB/9

Chris Ellis

10-2

2.40

1.30

.260

5.4

3.1

Preston Morrison

9-4

1.32

0.85

.232

6.6

1.54

There is a clear advantage there for Alexander Morrison. But, he's a freshman. Neither has ever pitched at the CWS before, but you'd have to give Smith an bit of an edge based on maturity.

That isn't the entire story though. Offense matters too. There's little doubt that Ole Miss is the better offensive team. But, because TD Ameritrade Park is such an extreme pitchers park, their advantage at the plate is significantly lessened.

It seems like a no brainer that we should root for Ole Miss. The combination of our pitching staff and the ballpark should shut down Mississippi's offense. With a number of lefties in the lineup, we'd much prefer to face a righty. And Tyler Alexander is (probably) a better pitcher than Sam Smith. And Morrison is a better pitcher than Ellis. And we've already seen Ellis once this week.

So, Hoos, root for the Rebels tonight.

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