The finality hadn’t hit TCU third baseman Jantzen Witte.
He was trying to soak in the fact that he had just played the last game of his career at Lupton Stadium, an easily forgettable 3-0 loss to Texas to close out the regular season in front of 4,694, the largest crowd of the year.
Witte, who has been a cornerstone at the hot corner since bursting on the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2010, was saying goodbye to his baseball home for the past five years, as were four senior teammates — Davy Wright, Justin Scharf, Josh Gonzales and Al Ralston.
“Honestly, it hasn’t set in for me yet,” said Witte, who attended Arlington Martin High School. “I’ve been looking ahead to this day and knew it was going to happen. I would have liked to go out with a win, but we actually played pretty well. Nothing really fell for us.”
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Witte, of course, isn’t ready to think about endings. TCU begins play in its first Big 12 tournament Wednesday in Oklahoma City against No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (13-10 Big 12). The Horned Frogs (28-26, 12-12) enter the double-elimination tournament as the seventh seed.
Texas pitcher Nathan Thornhill pitched his second complete game, working out of minor jams early. He finished with five strikeouts, one walk, and held TCU to six singles.
“When he made a bad pitch, we hit it, and when we hit it, we hit it at somebody,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He was obviously the difference in the game.”
Witte, who is second all-time at TCU with 61 doubles, leads the team with 12 doubles and 33 RBIs. He has been a fixture since helping TCU reach its first College World Series in 2010. His two-run homer against Florida State in the CWS helped TCU pull off an improbable comeback.
“I’ve really only had two third basemen,” said Schlossnagle of his 10 seasons at TCU. “It was really hard thinking about writing the lineup without Matt Carpenter in it, and it’s going to be really hard to write one without Jantzen Witte.”
Wright and Gonzales have been key utility players for the Frogs. Scharf was crucial out of the bullpen during the 2012 postseason run. Al Ralston has been a rock as the bullpen catcher for three seasons.
“Those are ultimate team guys,” Schlossnagle said. “They are the first guys to help pull the tarp or pickup baseballs or trash in the dugout. They represent everything that’s right about college athletics and about our program.”
Witte said former teammates who didn’t expect to miss the game have realized that’s not the case when it’s gone.
“They like their jobs and who they work with, it’s just something about playing for TCU and being around the guys in the locker room… they really miss it,” he said. “Maybe it will be after the season. There will be some tears when that happens, but hopefully we’ll be hoisting up a trophy. We’re going to do our best to do so.”