TCU

TCU coach salutes freshman catcher’s ‘heck of a day’ in Sunday victories

TCU catcher Evan Skoug embraces pitcher Tyler Alexander following an 8-2 victory against N.C. State on Sunday night. Skoug went 2-for-4 with a walk after hitting a three-run home run earlier against Stony Brook as the Horned Frogs swept two elimination games at the Fort Worth Regional.
TCU catcher Evan Skoug embraces pitcher Tyler Alexander following an 8-2 victory against N.C. State on Sunday night. Skoug went 2-for-4 with a walk after hitting a three-run home run earlier against Stony Brook as the Horned Frogs swept two elimination games at the Fort Worth Regional. Star-Telegram

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle could not let a certain player to go unmentioned in his post-game press conference Sunday night following victories against Stony Brook and N.C. State that kept the Horned Frogs alive.

“I want to comment on Evan Skoug,” he said. “That was a heck of a day.”

The freshman catcher caught both games, went 4-for-9 combined with a three-run home run, a walk, three runs scored and four runs batted in and faced no steal attempts against him. He is hitting 5-for-15 for the tournament with five runs batted in and leads the Horned Frogs in RBIs for the season.

“To sit back there and catch, as a freshman, in this environment, in this heat, back-to-back games — and did a heck of a job with all of our pitchers,” Schlossnagle said. “He did some things today that I’ll comment on when our season’s over that were Bryan Holaday-like in terms of leadership. Really, really changed the course of some things that happened in that first game.

“I don’t want to annoint him anything special yet. But that was a heck of a day for a young freshman catcher playing in his first regional.”

Skoug, a left-handed hitter, has started 58 games for the Horned Frogs. He is hitting .278 with 13 doubles, seven home runs and 43 runs batted in. His slugging percentage of .430 is second on the team, and his 22 walks rank third.

Young starts

Left-handed junior Alex Young will start for TCU on Monday night in the regional championship game. N.C. State did not announce a starter.

Young (9-2, 2.05) last pitched May 20 at the Big 12 tournament against Baylor, giving up three runs in five innings. The Horned Frogs are 10-3 in his starts this year and 12-5 all-time.

This will be his fourth NCAA postseason appearance and first start. He did not allow a run in three relief appearances covering 2.1 innings last year.

“I sure would like for him to pitch like Tyler,” Schlossnagle said, asked what he can expect from Young. “He’s just going to have to throw strikes. Throw strike one. Get the leadoff hitter out. N.C. State has some really good, veteran players in there that are going to be ready to roll.”

Young struck out 77 and walked 19 in 79 innings during the regular season. He had a .210 batting average against.

N.C. State coach Elliott Avent said his team will have to learn Young on the run.

“Never seen him, have no idea. I expect he’s going to be good,” Avent said. “He’s got a good record. We’ve got a scouting report on him, as well. But you know? This time of year, you can throw scouting reports out the window. You’ve got to come out here and do it. We’ll make our approach as the game goes along.”

Bullpen availability

The Horned Frogs have not had to use setup reliever Trey Teakell in the regional. He and closer Riley Ferrell are certainly available Monday, and Preston Guillory, Brian Trieglaff and Travis Evans are presumably available.

Guillory threw 39 pitches Sunday, Evans threw 13 and Gooch four.

Ferrell pitched Saturday. Trieglaff pitched two innings Friday.

“I’ll probably be a little tight, but I can definitely get a couple outs if my team needs it,” Guillory said.

Timed it ‘perfectly’

Dane Steinhagen was sure he was safe on his attempted steal of home plate in the third inning, believing he got his foot on the plate before he was tagged.

“Oh, I did. I did,” he said. “There’s video of it. I’ve seen it. A couple of media people came up to me and told me I was safe. I knew I was.”

Steinhagen said he thought the umpire’s view was blocked by the catcher, but he was still pleased by the play and how it unfolded when third base coach Bill Mosiello put the steal on.

“He just said, ‘We’re going on the next pitch,’ “ Steinhagen said and smiled. “I was like, ‘OK.’ I wasn’t going to say no. I was, ‘Yes, sir.’ I got a good jump, I started going before he started his windup. I was worried I went too early. I timed it perfectly. It just didn’t work out in our favor.”

Howard numbness

Schlossnagle said reliever Brian Howard has been dealing with numbness in his forearm, which is part of the reason he came out after 4.1 innings in his start against Stony Brook on Sunday.

“It kind of comes and goes,” Schlossnagle said. “Nothing serious. More of a neuritis. Nothing that would keep him from pitching again this season, but not in this tournament. He’s been battling it for a couple of weeks. But I thought he did a great job.”

Howard (4-0, 3.35) has made 15 appearances and four starts this year. He has 43 strikeouts and 12 walks in 43 innings.

Numbers game

Tyler Alexander’s three career complete games have all been in postseason tournaments: two regional games and the 2014 Big 12 tournament final.

Leadoff hitter Cody Jones has reached base in 30 consecutive games and has a 13-game hitting streak.

Third baseman Derek Odell is the Horned Frogs’ active leader in postseason RBIs with 16 in 20 games. He has seven in this regional.

TCU is hitting .308 with 30 runs, 21 walks and a .409 on-base percentage in the regional.

TCU pitchers have a .138 batting average against with 36 strikeouts in 36 innings in the regional.

TCU is 33-28 all-time in NCAA postseason games and 13-3 in regional games at Lupton Stadium.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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