Rather than lose its first series of the season, TCU could have just as easily swept or been swept at West Virginia last week, coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
“It’s a great league we’re playing in, and the line between winning and losing is very thin,” he said. “We’ve got three losses in conference play. Two of them are walk-offs, the other was a one-run loss at home.”
The Horned Frogs remain in first place in the Big 12, but now with a one-game lead on West Virginia and Texas Tech rather than the two-game lead they held on those teams entering the weekend. A victory Sunday, rather than a loss on a bases-loaded walk, would have meant a two-game lead on Tech and a three-game lead on West Virginia.
“Leagues like the SEC and the ACC, they always talk about how tough they are and every weekend’s a grind and they beat up on each other. That’s exactly what’s happening in the Big 12,” Schlossnagle said.
Next up is a home series against Baylor starting Friday. TCU’s next four conference series are against teams in the top 40 in RPI.
“There’s a give-and-take with that,” Schlossnagle said. “You want to be in a very competitive league because everybody gets rewarded, but you also have to have patience when you’re playing the games that you’re not going to win them all and they’re going to be ultra-competitive every single day.”
TCU lost two of three at West Virginia, victimized by poor play (three runners were picked off in the series finale), mediocre starting pitching (10 runs allowed in 11.1 innings) and a hit batter and three walks in the ninth inning on Sunday to let the winning run score without a hit.
“Sunday was tough, but it was way more than just the ninth inning,” Schlossnagle said. “We had two or three really big screw-ups on the bases.”
The Frogs were idle Tuesday, preparing for the start of another Big 12 series on Friday, at home against Baylor.
“Normally you’d like to get back on the field and have a chance to play a game and forget about it,” Schlossnagle said. “Obviously we need to practice, and maybe a little bit of extra rest and a chance to catch up in the classroom. We’re taking advantage of that right now and getting ready to hopefully get back in front of a big home crowd this weekend.”
Schlossnagle said he saw good body language at practice from a veteran team.
“The thing I evaluate every day is their attitude and their effort. Are they coachable? Are they coming down here with a mindset to get better? I can’t recall a day, whether it be in the fall or the spring, when they weren’t locked in,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re starting to swing the bat better. But we still haven’t put together a complete weekend of good starting pitching, sound defense, aggressive and intelligent baserunning and solid, timely hitting. That’s going to happen with this bunch – there’s no doubt in my mind, and it’d be nice to have it happen more than one time.
“We have to keep plugging along, and like we did last year, play our best baseball at the most important time.”
No. 6 TCU vs. Baylor
6:30 Friday, 3 Saturday (FSSW), 1 Sunday