TCU won its eighth conference championship in baseball under coach Jim Schlossnagle on Thursday night.
But ... “This is a special one,” he said.
Two reasons. One, it was a championship in the Big 12, a Power 5 conference. Two, it was at Oklahoma, one of the league’s traditional powers.
“This is a special one because in my years at TCU, when we were bouncing around difference conferences, all I ever heard was how TCU couldn’t compete in the Big 12,” Schlossnagle said after his team’s come-from-behind 5-4 win. “I know we won the tournament last year, finished second in the league, but this is a special one. Just really proud.”
He said he gathered up every player and staff member remaining from the 2013 team, the first to compete in the Big 12, and congratulated them.
“We got swept up here that year,” Schlossnagle said, remembering 4-3, 3-1 and 3-2 losses that March, part of a 1-5 start to the inaugural Big 12 year for the Horned Frogs. “Two extra-inninig losses. That was one of the more miserable bus rides home that I’ve ever had. To win a conference championship up here — Oklahoma has a really good team. It was really special.”
Keaton Jones’ solo home run in the seventh inning tied the game 4-4, and Derek Odell scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the ninth inning. Riley Ferrell walked two in the ninth, but struck out two and got a ground ball for his 13th save.
Preston Guillory pitched the seventh inning after Jones tied the game and got two outs in the eighth. Travis Evans (1-0) gave up a single but got the final out of the eighth inning to get in line for his first win.
“Preston Guillory did an unbelievable job,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re trying to get Trey Teakell some rest here at the tail end of the season. Preston, he’s just really developed. Coach Saarloos has done a great job with him. That was really the first time he’s pitched with the game on the line. Just did a great job. Unbelievable job.”
Cody Jones also homered for TCU, banging his fourth with two out in the third inning to tie the game 1-1.
The win ensured the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament next week in Tulsa for TCU (41-9, 14-5). It also made the Horned Frogs the ninth team in Big 12 history to win the conference tournament one year and the regular season championship the next.
Schlossnagle said it’s not enough to assume a national seed, however.
“It certainly adds a nice bullet point to your resume,” he said. “I still think we need to win this series and have some success in the conference tournament. I’d like to think that the Big 12 champion with a top-10 RPI wouldn’t have to win the conference tournament to be a national seed, but we’ll see. We’ll just keep our head down and keep trying to win baseball games.”
Last season, TCU earned its first national seed and used it to springbroad a trip to the College World Series. TCU advanced to the CWS in 2010 by winning a Super Regional on the road.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407