TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle was looking for something, anything, to seize upon. He wanted a good lesson to address with his team after the season-opening series at Ole Miss last Sunday. The Horned Frogs had just been swept for only the third time in Schlossnagle’s 10-year tenure and for the first time since 2008.
“I told the guys, ‘I really wish I had something to yell at you about,’” Schlossnagle said. “But I really couldn’t come up with anything because we played really hard, pitched lights out, played good defense. We got hits.”
Sure, Schlossnagle would have preferred to see a few more timely hits, but for the most part he had few complaints. So the lesson became: That’s baseball. It doesn’t get any easier for the Frogs (0-3), ranked No. 22 by Baseball America and who begin a three-game series against No. 20 Cal State Fullerton (5-0) at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s hard. … You want to see the results, but you can’t ultimately control that,” said pitcher Preston Morrison, who is slated to start Game 2. “We know it’s early in the season, and we know we’re just getting tested right now. We feel like if we just keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be fine. We don’t like losing. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about winning.”
A few plays here or there, and TCU likely would have a couple wins. In last Friday’s season-opener, TCU had the bases loaded in the ninth inning with one out, trailing 1-0, when a runner’s interference call wiped away the tying run, ending the game on a controversial double play. In Game 2, a bad hop sailed over first baseman Kevin Cron’s head, allowing the go-ahead run. Sunday’s game turned on a two-out grand slam in the first inning despite the Frogs’ bullpen holding Ole Miss to one run the rest of the game.
“I’m waiting to see how we respond,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve had a good week of practice, and we’ll see how resilient we are to getting beat down like that.”
Second baseman Derek Odell said he’s encouraged by a group of freshmen that has come along much quicker than his class last season. He said several first-year players looked unusually comfortable at the plate, including Boomer White, Travis Hennessey and Blinn College transfer Kevin Daniels.
“This year, those guys have just jumped right in, ready to play,” Odell said. “Last year it took a little time to get how our team does things.”
Although TCU hit only .194 and scored four runs against stout Ole Miss pitching, some players, including Jerrick Suiter, were a little less than lucky. Suiter had nothing to show for 10 at-bats despite squaring up six balls.
“He destroyed five balls to the outfield and hit one off the pitcher, and all of them were outs,” Schlossnagle said. “The novice fan is going to say he needs to come out of the lineup when he hit the ball better than anyone on the team.”
After working as the designated hitter last week, Suiter, who has recovered sooner than expected from a preseason injury, will start in left field tonight.
Schlossnagle will take a repeat performance in front of the home fans this weekend, adding maybe a few more hits and allowing fewer two-out runs — ten of Ole Miss’s 11 runs came with two outs.
“Everybody has been frustrated and beaten down by the game simply because we played well for three days and lost,” Schlossnagle said. “Could we have played better? Sure, but we played well enough to win. That’s not the start you want. Everybody is just looking for that first W that can give everybody some confidence and feel good about themselves again. ”