There was no dogpile or over-the-top celebration Sunday night at Lupton Stadium — only a few hugs, some high fives and deep breaths.
TCU baseball is two wins from returning to the promised land of college baseball, the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
The Horned Frogs (45-15) host Pepperdine (42-16) in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional at Lupton Stadium, with Game 1 most likely on Friday afternoon. Dates and times and television information were expected to be announced late Monday.
The lack of overt celebrations after TCU defeated Sam Houston State to win the Fort Worth Regional was a reminder that the Horned Frogs remain focused on the ultimate prize.
The subdued reaction didn’t surprise TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, who saw a similar scene when the Frogs won the Big 12 tournament on May 25.
“It’s not like we stand around all year talking about winning conference tournaments or regionals,” he said. “We talk about winning at Omaha, and we’re not there. Not to discount what happened on the weekend and the job those guys did, but I think they’re looking at it as part of the process of getting where they want to be.”
Third baseman Derek Odell, one of eight players on the TCU team that won the 2012 College Station Regional, said there’s an unspoken understanding in the clubhouse that only one win deserves a dogpile.
“Nothing really has to be said. Before every single game, we tell ourselves there are bigger things to happen, and that’s just kind of imprinted on everybody’s mind that we have bigger plans. So a dogpile is not really needed yet,” Odell said.
The 2012 team was swept by UCLA in the Los Angeles Super Regional. TCU reached its first CWS in 2010 after beating Texas twice in Austin. The Frogs reached the CWS semifinals before losing to the Bruins. That TCU team also had stellar pitching, including the college national pitcher of the year in Matt Purke, who went 16-0.
But this staff is arguably deeper and more talented, which makes the Frogs a legitimate national championship contender. The staff has grown more dominant as the season has worn on.
TCU leads the nation with a 2.14 ERA. The next closest team as of Monday afternoon is Cal State Fullerton, which was eliminated by Oklahoma State on Sunday night.
Not only has TCU’s starting pitching been lights-out, but the bullpen also was nothing short of spectacular in the regional. Six pitchers combined for 18 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, including Trey Teakell (7 1/3) and Riley Ferrell (3 2/3). Both recorded crucial outs in the Frogs’ first two regional wins that went into extra innings.
The weekend had its share of heroes, including Boomer White, who was named the Fort Worth Regional MVP after two game-winning hits.
But White, TCU’s RBI leader, is an expected team hero, unlike little-used pitchers Brian Howard and Brian Trieglaff, who came in relief in Saturday’s 22-inning win and performed admirably. Howard entered the game with just nine innings of work all year. Trieglaff had just 15 2/3 innings. Howard threw four scoreless innings, and Trieglaff replaced him with runners on the corners in the 20th inning and struck out Bearkats slugger Ryan O’Hearn to end the inning.
“Those are the two guys that put us in position to win the [regional],” Schlossnagle said. “You normally have to get a performance from somebody you’re not expecting. That was it right there for me.”
Schlossnagle barred his players from the field on Monday, a much-needed off day after playing 42 innings in three days.
They’ll be back at it Tuesday preparing to host their first super regional.
“It’s an honor. It’s my dream, too. That’s one of the reasons I came here,” Odell said. “I wanted to be part of a team that earned their way to a national seed and hosted a regional and the first super regional in front of this beautiful home crowd we’ve got.”
Fort Worth Super Regional
Best-of-three series: Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday, Lupton Stadium
White leads honor roll
TCU outfielder Boomer White was named the Fort Worth Regional Most Valuable Player after going 7 for 20 with four RBIs, including game-winning hits in the Frogs’ first two wins. The regional’s all-tournament team:
1B Vincent Citro (Siena)
2B Garrett Crain (TCU)
SS Corey Toups (Sam Houston State)
3B Justin Esquerra (Siena)
C Anthony Azar (Sam Houston State)
OF Boomer White (TCU)
OF Dan Swain (Siena)
OF Austin Listi (Dallas Baptist)
DH Hayden Simerly (Sam Houston State)
P Brandon Finnegan (TCU)
P Trey Teakell (TCU)