TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle worried weak bats hurting college game

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle got the college baseball world talking after his postgame comments early Wednesday morning.

The Horned Frogs had just lost 3-2 to Virginia in 15 innings, and Schlossnagle, a longtime critic of the current college bat requirements, couldn’t help himself — not after watching his slugger Kevin Cron crush a ball in the third inning only to watch it die short of the warning track in left field.

Of course, Schlossnagle has seen that very same scenario play out during Cron’s three seasons at TCU. Cron has routinely tattooed pitches that either have been knocked down by the Lupton Stadium winds or have been robbed of their natural power by the weakened BBCOR bats instituted in 2011.

At TD Ameritrade Park, it’s not just Cron who has been robbed. Derek Odell had a shot that died in the cavernous stadium outfield in the 15th inning in Tuesday’s game. And Virginia’s Nate Irving had to settle for a ground-rule double to left when his fly ball ran out of steam near the warning track in the bottom of the 15th, which eventually led to the Cavaliers’ win.

“Had we won the game, you would have heard more,” Schlossnagle said Wednesday evening. “I had already been thinking about it during the course of the game. My feelings have way more to do with the bats than they do with the ballpark. I hate what we’ve done to our sport because I think it was as healthy as it ever has been during that 2009-2010 year.”

Schlossnagle, who said “it’s a travesty what we’ve done to college baseball” during TCU’s press conference early Wednesday morning, isn’t just frustrated on behalf of his sluggers such as Cron, but for the game itself. He pointed to hard-hit balls by Virginia’s Mike Papi, Texas Tech’s Tyler Neslony and Irving’s double as other examples. The lone home run hit in the 2014 CWS came Wednesday night when Texas’ C.J. Hinojosa drove one out to left.

“We had the bats perfect for college players,” he said. “It’s just frustrating. There have been eight or 10 balls that I’ve seen hit in this thing [that should have been home runs]. And it’s not just the home runs, it’s the balls that get hung up in the gaps. It’s just disappointing.”

TCU implores its hitters to try to hit balls hard back up the middle. But talented sluggers such as Cron, who hit an Arizona career high school record 60 homers, including 27 his senior year, has just 13 in three years at TCU, including five in 2014.

The frustration has been building in both him and Schlossnagle, and early Wednesday, Schlossnagle had to vent.

“He’s beyond that because it’s been happening for three years now,” Schlossnagle said. “[There’s] nothing to say to him. All you can do is understand he made hard contact, and that’s all you can control. At the end of the day, a good hitter gets tired of hearing that.”

TCU visits hospital

There is no rest for the weary, but it was just fine with the TCU baseball team. Less than eight hours after the Frogs had lost to Virginia in a 15-inning marathon game, which ended just before midnight Tuesday, the team visited Children’s Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha on Wednesday morning.

“Going into that place, you don’t need much sleep for it to liven you up a little bit,” said TCU outfielder Dylan Fitzgerald, who didn’t get to sleep until after 4 a.m. “It brightens your mood for sure. It was awesome.”

The players visited patients as young as five months to teenagers.

“The smile we put on their faces definitely brought joy to us,” TCU pitcher Tyler Alexander said. “They lift our spirits because they’re so upbeat about their situation.”

Key stat

110 Innings played at the 2014 CWS before the first homer was hit. Hinojosa’s solo shot landed deep in the left-field bullpen in the seventh inning Wednesday night. It’s his second homer of the season.

Quotable

“I don’t think the right fielder expected [Garrett Crain] to go first to third. And he ran right in his face and got to third base, and that allowed us to score [in the second inning]. Fitz was trying to do the same thing. We have videotape of their center fielder not making that throw. He made a good throw. You’ve got to get to third base with one out. You just have to.” — TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on Dylan Fitzgerald getting thrown out at third base in the 12th inning Tuesday on Kyle Bacak’s single to center

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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