OMAHA, Neb. TCU is going to get a chance to play for a spot in the College World Series final.
The Horned Frogs earned it with a 9-2 victory against Florida in a semifinal game Friday night, forcing a second semifinal on Saturday.
Some postgame reaction from the win:
1. That was the best the TCU offense has looked since the Fort Worth Regional, when the Frogs had 9-6 and 15-3 victories. But it didn’t start out looking that way. Seven of the first eight hitters struck out against Florida’s Jackson Kowar. After that, the Frogs started going the other way with fastballs and put together an 8-for-17 stretch with three doubles, a triple and five walks for nine runs. “When we become happy top-spinning balls at pull sides, that’s not our offense,” said Austen Wade, who was 2-for-5 with a double. “I preached about it. When we’re driving balls opposite gap, that’s when our offense is playing its best.”
2. The Horned Frogs were overpowered by Jackson Kowar’s fastball and changeup early when he struck out seven of the first eight batters. They started attacking in their second at-bats. “We basically came back after the first time through the lineup, said we can’t miss our fastballs to hit and stay on the baseball as long as we can,” Austen Wade said. Evan Skoug called it “A” stuff from the right-hander early. “Our scouting report had been how good his changeup was, and for us three left-handers, that changeup put us away real quick,” Skoug said. “He did a good job mixing his pitches. We know that as long as you hit a guy a couple times, we can start making adjustments.”
3. Freshman right-hander Charles King didn’t figure he’d have to wait until the College World Series to record his first victory, but that’s when it came. He’s 1-3 after pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up only a hit and two walks, striking out five in his Omaha debut. “It was awesome, a great experience,” King said. “Getting up on the mound, it felt good, it felt natural. Warmups felt good. Felt like I was hitting it with every pitch. My mentality out there was really good. I had a good mindset out there.” Catcher Evan Skoug said, “Without having his best stuff, he did an amazing job of competing. Picked up right where Mitchell left off and he let us win. Put up a lot of zeroes, gave us a chance, and the offense picked him up.”
4. Ryan Merrill almost got moved up in the lineup. He had another hit Friday and is 4-for-12 in the CWS, continuing to hit the ball hard even in outs. “I came really close to moving him up, but I didn’t want to mess with where we are,” Schlossnagle said. “The key to our offense here in Omaha has been the bottom third of our lineup. The ability to score at any time is big.” Merrill’s hit with two out in the third inning broke the spell Jackson Kowar held on the Frogs early. “I’m pretty sure he’ll get a chance to play professional baseball when this thing is over with,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s nice that he’s getting to do this here in his hometown.”
5. TCU’s first four runs Friday scored with two out and six of their nine in all. Thursday, it was all four with two out. Tuesday, it was two of four. That’s 12 of the Frogs’ 17 runs scoring with two outs in the CWS. “It’s something we practice every day in BP, getting a good pitch to hit and driving in a runner from second with two outs,” Skoug said. “Getting good pitches to hit and executing those is what wins ballgames. If we didn’t get those two-out hits, scored those runs, we probably wouldn’t have won.”