After converting the first 18 save opportunities of his career, TCU closer Durbin Feltman has a new challenge — recovering from his first blown save.
“That’s all part of pitching in that role. You’ve got to have a short memory when you pitch well, and now it’s an opportunity to have a short memory when you don’t pitch well,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “You can’t let it steamroll into anything other than just a bad day.”
Feltman, a sophomore from Conroe, was 9-for-9 in save opportunities last year and 9-for-9 this year until Sunday in the series finale at West Virginia, when he hit a batter with one out and walked the next three to force in the tying run. TCU lost the game and the series when Cal Coughlin took over and, after a strikeout, walked in the winning run. That also pinned Feltman with his first loss at TCU.
“No, he just didn’t throw strikes,” Schlossnagle said, asked if anything was different about Feltman’s appearance compared with his others this season. “He struck out the first guy with ease, got strike one on the next guy, then he hit him, and it just got away from him.”
Feltman ranks No. 3 all-time at TCU in saves as the Frogs prepare to start a three-game Big 12 series at home Friday against Baylor. Riley Ferrell saved 32 games from 2013 to 2015, and Sam Demel saved 20 from 2005 to 2007.
Feltman was coming off a five-out save the day before at West Virginia. He had saves on consecutive days against Oklahoma State in March this year and against Kansas State last season. He also pitched on consecutive days at a tournament in Houston, winning one game and saving the next.
“He’s had plenty where he hadn’t pitched great but still managed to wiggle his way out of it,” Schlossnagle said. “But obviously, that’s his first blown save. Again, that’s just part of it. If you keep running him out there, it’s eventually going to happen.”
Since debuting in the closer role on March 22 last season with a one-inning save against Abilene Christian, Feltman has been brilliant. He held opponents scoreless in 16 of his last 17 appearances in 2016, including a strikeout of all six batters faced in a game against Texas Tech, three shutout innings to win the Big 12 tournament title game in extra innings against West Virginia, a two-inning save against Texas A&M in the Super Regional-clinching game and a save in the College World Series against Texas Tech.
This year, his appearances included a scoreless 15th inning of a late-night victory against Texas A&M at the Shriners College Classic and a save against Ole Miss just 14 hours later.
Feltman hadn’t so much as given up a run in a save situation at TCU until April 4 at UT Arlington, and Schlossnagle said the right-hander was getting sharper with more work.
“We have full confidence in him,” Schlossnagle said. “He’ll be right back out there the next time that we need him in that role. That’ll be the true test — how he comes back from it.”
No. 6 TCU vs. Baylor
6:30 p.m. Friday (FCS), 3 p.m. Saturday (FSSW), 1 p.m. Sunday