College Sports

June 10, 2014

TCU’s comeback took an assist from loud Fort Worth crowd

TCU’s late rally Monday was spurred on by a special atmosphere at Lupton Stadium.

About 170 kids were running around the field at Lupton Stadium on Tuesday, a day after the biggest win in the stadium’s 12-year history.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle’s baseball camp was in session as he tried to put in perspective the Horned Frogs’ comeback victory Monday afternoon against Pepperdine.

“This is a very special time. It’s an historic time, to do it in this park and in that fashion,” Schlossnagle told his players after they rallied to score two runs in the top of the ninth to beat Pepperdine 6-5 and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. “I want you to enjoy every second of it for 24 to 48 hours.”

But don’t eat the cheese, Schlossnagle warned them, using one of the team’s favorite 2014 slogans, which means don’t believe the hype.

“But I want you to find every piece of cheese you can find and take it all in,” he told them. “You deserve it.”

By Wednesday, however, TCU (47-16), one of only two national seeds remaining, will be back preparing for its CWS opener against Texas Tech (45-19) at 2 p.m. Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha. The team leaves for Omaha on Thursday.

Schlossnagle was up until 1:30 Tuesday morning trying to respond to more than 160 congratulatory text and phone messages.

This will be TCU’s second trip to the CWS. Schlossnagle’s 2010 team came within a game of advancing to the best-of-three CWS championship series. The TCU-Tech winner advances to play the winner between No. 3 national seed Virginia (49-14) and Ole Miss (46-19) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The losers of those games play at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The other side of the bracket includes Texas (43-19) vs. UC Irvine (40-23) and Louisville (50-15) vs. Vanderbilt (46-19), at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.

TCU’s late-inning comeback Monday was assisted by a packed Lupton Stadium crowd, Schlossnagle said. When the Frogs fell behind early and then trailed by a run entering the ninth, their fans helped stir the rally.

“You could feel the crowd and their energy basically saying, ‘C’mon guys. C’mon. We’ve got your back. Just keep competing,” Schlossnagle said. “And I think our guys did that.”

The noise from the third consecutive sold-out crowd of 4,450, which included fans sitting on the right-field berm for the third game in a row, not only fired up TCU players, but also likely adversely affected Pepperdine players at the same time.

“They’re so talented, but no disrespect, they’re not used to playing in that,” he said. “I don’t care what they say, that plays a role when you don’t experience that during the regular season. It’s awful tough to just kind of handle that in the postseason at the most important time.”

The electricity coming from the crowd was almost too much for Riley Ferrell, who closed the game, despite having to deal with runners on the corners after two walks in the bottom of the ninth.

“I tried so hard not to get so pumped after we scored those two runs,” said Ferrell, who walked the leadoff hitter and then walked another batter with two outs and Pepperdine’s feared clean-up hitter Aaron Brown on deck. “I tried sitting down to get some deep breaths in me. I guess I didn’t take enough in the dugout. It took me a couple batters before I got enough breath in me.”

Ferrell struck out Bryan Langlois to end it and the Lupton Stadium crowd exhaled with a roar.

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