OMAHA, Neb. – TCU is one of only two remaining National Seeds to make the 2014 College World Series and seeks its’ first national title after stumbling out of the gate, starting the season 17-12 before going 30-4 over the remainder of the regular season and the post season to get to Omaha. The Horned Frogs earned that seed behind one of the nations’ top pitching staffs that has held opponents to two-runs or less 41 times this season.
TCU is making its’ second trip to the College World Series, the first came in 2010 in which the Horned Frogs went 3-2 losing to UCLA as one of the final four that season. Both Horned Frogs trips to Omaha have come during the Jim Schlossnagle regime in which he is 417-203 in 11 seasons.
The Horned Frogs finished the regular season in second place in the Big 12, just one game behind Oklahoma State, and then went on to win the conference tournament with four straight wins to wrap up the National Seed. TCU entered the NCAA Regionals riding a six-game winning streak but with the guarantee that if it could keep winning at least one road to Omaha would come through Fort Worth.
The Horned Frogs allowed four runs in their Regional defeating Siena 2-1 in 11 innings before winning an epic 22-inning battle with Sam Houston State 3-2. Boomer White (.318/.392/.371, 48 R, 46 RBI, 2 HR) got the opportunity to be the hero on back-to-back nights hitting game-winning RBI singles in extras in both games.
Tyler Alexander (10-3, 2.16 ERA, 2 CG, 58 K, 11 BB, .232 OBA) threw a complete game and allowed an earned run as TCU remained unbeaten in the Regional with a 6-1 win over Sam Houston State. The Horned Frogs were now on a nine-game winning streak heading into the Super Regional where they would host West Coast Conference Champion Pepperdine.
TCU would take game one 3-2 over the Waves behind a solid start by Brandon Finnegan (9-3, 2.12 ERA, 1 CG, 129 K, 27 BB, .202 OBA) that put the Horned Frogs in a position to win as he left the game with a 3-2 lead. Trey Teakell (6-0, 2.22 ERA, 2 SV, 36 K, 13 BB, .220 OBA) and Riley Ferrell (2-1, 0.68 ERA, 15 SV, 64 K, 13 BB, .124 OBA) came on to close out the win with two and two-thirds scoreless innings of work in a typical TCU win.
In game two the Waves would break the Horned Frogs streak of seven straight games allowing two runs or less and their 10-game winning streak with a 3-2 win to even the series behind a brilliant performance by Aaron Brown.
However, Pepperdine would do something against TCU pitching that hadn’t been done since April 4th of this season and that is score more than two runs in back-to-back games. On April 3rd the Horned Frogs beat UT Arlington 12-6 in a midweek game and then beat West Virginia 4-3 to open the weekend. The Horned Frogs then ran off a streak of 32 consecutive games without allowing more than two runs in back-to-back games.
TCU would respond with some offensive prowess helped by Dylan Fitzgerald’s (.318/.438/.399, 34 R, 33 RBI, 2 HR) RBI double that set up Kyle Bacak’s (.269/.294/.402, 23 R, 18 RBI) team leading 18th sac bunt, this of the suicide squeeze variety, that scored Jerrick Suiter (.278/.352/.352, 23 R, 29 RBI) and sent the Horned Frogs packing for Omaha.
TCU opens play in Game 3 of the College World Series against Big 12 and in-state rival Texas Tech Sunday at 3:00 PM eastern and then will play either Virginia or Ole Miss in its’ second game.
2014 College World Series – TCU (47-16)
The strength of TCU has been its pitching which has carried the team to winning 20-of-21 games in the mid-season before their recent 10-game winning streak that included a 4-0 start to the post-season before losing to Pepperdine. The Horned Frogs’ staff ERA is 2.19 and WHIP is 1.02 and are both the best in Omaha. The answer to the question of who has the best pitching in Omaha finds its answer in TCU.
All-Americans Brandon Finnegan and Preston Morrison (9-4, 1.32 ERA, 5 CG, 85 K, 19 BB, .197 OBA) lead the Horned Frogs starting staff and make a formidable one-two punch that can get them into the winner’s bracket in Omaha. However, this team has a solid top four with Alexander and Jordan Kipper (8-2, 3.10 ERA, 70 K, 14 BB, .233 OBA) rounding out the rotation.
When TCU turns to the pen the same level of quality pitching heads to the bump led by Trey Teakell and Alex Young (1-3, 2.53 ERA, 39 K, 16 BB, .224 OBA) who are excellent in their role of getting the game from the great starting pitchers to the Horned Frogs’ stopper All-American Riley Ferrell who is one of the premier closers in the nation.
Some would say that TCU’s hitting has been a liability but it has to be considered that Lupton Stadium is home for the Horned Frogs and it is definitely a pitcher’s park. That being said, Boomer White is key to the offensive production leading the team with 81 hits while swiping 11 bags and dropping clutch hits whenever necessary.
Lead-off man Cody Jones (.269/.314/.396, 49 R, 17 RBI) leads the team with 28 steals on 33 attempts as the Horned Frogs have adapted to Lupton Stadium with an aggressive offensive scheme. Jones walks and strikes out a lot with 45 walks against 47 strikeouts and the strikeouts have been bad for the offensive scheme for TCU with 15 percent of his appearances being wiped out without a ball in play.
Kevin Cron (.279/.438/.390, 35 R, 40 RBI, 5 HR) is the teams’ power threat with a .159 isolated slugging percentage and the team lead in homers and extra-base hits. Fitzgerald is second on the team with homers and extra-base hits and provides pop to the lineup with a .120 isolated slugging percentage however, he strikes out in nearly 20 percent of plate appearances which keeps him toward the bottom of the lineup.
Derek Odell (.280/.343/.362, 34 R, 35 RBI, 1 HR) and Garrett Crain (.335/.431/.418, 29 R, 19 RBI, 1 HR) are two more key bats in the lineup. Odell is the two-hole hitter and has been effective at getting on base to extend innings for White and Cron. Crain hits fifth in the lineup and can usually get the scraps left over by the White/Cron combo in the lineup.
The Horned Frogs have stolen 89 bases and have 60 sac bunts on the season and have adapted themselves well to a pitcher’s park in the dead-bat era of college baseball and is efficient at manufacturing runs.
The ability to pitch well while manufacturing runs on offense will play well in Omaha and may well see the Horned Frogs through to the final and a shot at their first national title.