There is a reason Jim Schlossnagle, who has been at TCU for 12 seasons and has taken three teams to the College World Series and had 32 pitchers drafted, calls Trey Teakell “the most valuable pitcher” he’s ever had in Fort Worth.
Because Teakell can do what he did Thursday night at the College World Series.
The senior right-hander from Weatherford entered in a tie game and got 13 consecutive batters out against the No. 1 team in the country, stabilizing the contest in time for the Horned Frogs to take an 8-4 victory and stay alive for another night in Omaha.
Dane Steinhagen added three hits and three runs batted in as the Horned Frogs (51-14) defeated No. 1-ranked LSU (54-12) for the second time in the tournament and advanced to a 7 p.m. Friday game against Vanderbilt on ESPN. The Frogs will need to defeat Vanderbilt twice to advance to the championship series.
Teakell (3-1) came on in relief of Mitchell Traver after a four-pitch walk with one out in the fourth inning. An inning earlier, LSU had tied the game 3-3 behind Jake Fraley’s RBI triple and a wild pitch that scored him.
Facing the runner at first base, Teakell got a tapper in front of the plate from Mark Laird and a ground ball to second from Jared Foster. He needed three pitches.
“The story of the game was two-fold,” Schlossnagle said. “Obviously, Trey doing what he’s done for us all season — his entire career. He completely changed the pace of the game. I knew we were going to have to use him in the middle of the game, was hoping to get through the fifth inning with Traver, just couldn’t do it. LSU is too momentum driven. I had to change things there early. And obviously, Dane had a lot of really big hits for us as well.”
Teakell got his second victory in the postseason this year and his third career. In 29 2/3 postseason innings at TCU, he is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA, one walk and 18 strikeouts. He has pitched scoreless relief in 61 of his 81 relief appearances all time for the Frogs.
In the College World Series this year, he has retired all 17 batters he has faced.
Schlossnagle’s all-time MVP?
Teakell just smiled.
“First of all, I’m not sure that I agree with that,” he said. “There’s been a lot of good pitchers to come through here. To even be mentioned in a sentence with ‘Most Valuable,’ it’s an honor. It really means a lot to me that he thinks that highly of me. But I’m going to have to probably disagree with that statement.”
But after years of working almost behind the scenes, in the largely underappreciated role of long reliever, Teakell had his moment in the spotlight. He trended on Twitter — which he didn’t know because he isn’t on Twitter — and was the star of the night.
“I don’t really feel like a hero,” Teakell said. “I know there’s five other guys in our bullpen that can do the same thing I did. I’m really fortunate to be getting the ball in these situations, to have my name called. I’m grateful for that. I don’t feel like some big hero. I’m just doing my job.”
Steinhagen’s two-run single capped the Frogs’ three-run fifth inning, giving them a 6-3 lead and control of the game for Teakell.
Steinhagen, leading the team in strikeouts, went to the opposite field for a single against a drawn-in infield to score Connor Wanhanen and Evan Skoug. Skoug had doubled to drive in Cody Jones, who started the inning with a four-pitch walk, for the go-ahead run.
Against a right-hander, Steinhagen is usually lifted for a left-handed pinch hitter. But Schlossnagle stuck with him, and Steinhagen delivered.
“When they gave me the nod, I was like, ‘All right, I gotta get the job done,’” Steinhagen said. “Just having all the guys that I look up to, all the seniors, and making them proud, seeing a smile on their face really makes me happy.”
In the seventh, Skoug’s tapper in front of the plate scored Cody Jones for a 7-3 lead, and Steinhagen’s single to center made it 8-3.
The Horned Frogs loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning and got three runs out of it for a 3-1 lead.
Keaton Jones walked to bring in a run, and Garrett Crain hit reliever Hunter Newman’s first pitch on the ground to right field to score two runs.
But the lead stayed there when Cody Jones and Jeremie Fagnan struck out, both on four pitches.
Handed a 3-1 lead to start the third, Traver lost it in a span of four pitches. Alex Bregman’s infield single to deep short was followed by Fraley’s triple two pitches later to score him, and a wild pitch scored Fraley to tie the game.
A single by Kade Scivicque followed, but Traver got out of the inning with a strikeout and a foul out.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407
Game 11: Virginia (41-22) vs. Florida (51-18), 2 p.m.
Game 12: Vanderbilt (49-19) vs. TCU (51-14), 7 p.m.
x-Game 13: If Florida also wins Game 11, TBD
x-Game 14: If TCU also wins Game 12, TBD
Monday: Teams TBD, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: Teams TBD, 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday: Teams TBD, 7 p.m.