What’s next for TCU?
Winning games. A lot of games. In a short time.
The Horned Frogs woke up Monday for a workout clear-eyed about what lies ahead following a 3-0 loss to Florida in their College World Series opener.
“The way we look at it is, ‘OK, we were going to have to win a bunch of games in a row and play really good baseball to win this thing, anyway, so now it’s time to start doing it,’ ” pitcher Brian Howard said. “We’ve just got to go out and play our game and see where it takes us.”
To stay alive, TCU must win four games in five days this week, starting Tuesday against Texas A&M. That stretch means wins Thursday, Friday and Saturday against a combination of Florida and Louisville to get to the best-of-three finals next week.
Only then will the Horned Frogs — or Aggies, whoever wins Tuesday — be able to afford a loss again.
All told, it will take six wins in eight or nine days.
“Obviously we would have liked to have won the first game, but like Coach says, you can still win this whole tournament losing the first game,” shortstop Ryan Merrill said. “We’re set up. We’re not freaking out. We’re ready to go.”
But it’s an awfully long road back and a stiff test of TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle’s exhortation that teams in this situation remember they “get to play” instead of “have to play.”
“If you’re going to play extra games out of the losers bracket, you might as well do it at the College World Series,” Schlossnagle said. “So we’ll just look at it that way.”
The Horned Frogs believe they have the arms for that kind of run.
Howard will start Tuesday’s elimination game against Texas A&M, then Mitchell Traver is in line for Thursday.
“Full confidence,” center fielder Nolan Brown said, asked about the Frogs’ prospects with their pitching depth. “Those are the two guys that have done it. They’ve been here four years. They know the moment. They’re heady veterans. We’ve got full confidence behind them.”
Freshman Nick Lodolo, who pitched an inning of relief Sunday, would be available for a start Friday, then Jared Janczak’s turn would come up again on Saturday on five days’ rest.
Schlossnagle said Saturday is the earliest he would bring back Janczak. In that case, the championship series would be up to a combination of Howard, Traver and Lodolo.
But that’s looking a long way down the road.
“With the off days, we’re certainly capable of staying around a while,” Schlossnagle said. “I believe we’re built for this. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. The total focus has to be about preparation for this next game.”
The Frogs heaped credit on Florida pitcher Alex Faedo on Sunday. The first-round major league draft pick dominated for seven innings.
But he’s not the only good pitcher TCU will face in Omaha.
“We’re going to have to beat a good pitcher,” Schlossnagle said. “So we can’t just let our season end and say, ‘Oh, woe is me, the pitcher was good.’ We’re going to have to beat a good pitcher. But these guys are resilient. They know what they’re up against.”
Long odds and a long road.
No. 6 TCU vs. Texas A&M
1 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN