TCU

TCU closer Riley Ferrell soaks up advice from Gary Patterson

TCU closer Riley Ferrell reacts during the ninth inning of a game against Baylor in March at Lupton Stadium. Ferrell struck out the side to get his seventh save of the season in the 3-2 victory and went on to get seven more before his string ended May 20 against the same team in Tulsa.
TCU closer Riley Ferrell reacts during the ninth inning of a game against Baylor in March at Lupton Stadium. Ferrell struck out the side to get his seventh save of the season in the 3-2 victory and went on to get seven more before his string ended May 20 against the same team in Tulsa. Star-Telegram

TCU closer Riley Ferrell, in the biggest slump of his career — perhaps the only slump of his career — got some advice Tuesday night from the coach of another sport: Gary Patterson.

“He told me that in my position, I’m like his cornerbacks,” Ferrell said. “He said a good cornerback might make nine out of 10 plays a game, but the one that he misses ends up being the one that everybody looks at.”

The analogy from the TCU football coach seems to apply. Ferrell holds the school record for saves at TCU, but he’s blown his last two chances — at the Big 12 tournament and in a winner’s bracket game last weekend in the Fort Worth Regional. In fact, they are the only blown saves of his career; he is 32 for 34 in save opportunities at TCU.

They are part of three consecutive appearances in which Ferrell has given up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. He walked three and threw two wild pitches in failing to get a four-out save against Baylor on May 20 in Tulsa. And he gave up a two-run homer in the ninth inning Saturday against NC State.

Monday night, he couldn’t finish the eighth inning in the championship game of the Fort Worth Regional, getting charged with four runs as the Horned Frogs fell behind 8-1 before rallying to win 9-8 in 10 innings.

“Yeah, it sucks to go out there with the game on the line and not pitch as well as you have before,” he said. “But you know, that happens, people have their hiccups. Just so happens that mine was then, these last few outings.

“It gives me a lot of incentive to go out here today and the rest of this week to get ready to go this weekend and be the Riley Ferrell that I am.”

At a pool party Patterson hosted at his home for the baseball team, Ferrell and the coach got a chance to talk.

“It was awesome. He’s a really good guy,” Ferrell said. “Opened up his house to us.”

And the words of wisdom?

“I think it’s pretty good advice,” Ferrell said. “It gives me confidence to keep moving on and get over this last weekend and my performance, because we won. We get to go play.”

Ferrell said there’s nothing wrong physically and that he continues his routine of practice and watching film.

“I think it’s all just mental,” he said. “I’ve got to re-evaluate and get myself ready there. Physically, I feel great. Mechanically, I feel really crisp. Just freshening up my mental game and being able to settle the game down without lulling everybody to sleep. That’s where I’m at right now.”

Coach Jim Schlossnagle said Ferrell’s Saturday night appearance was “a thousand times better” than the Baylor outing in the Big 12 Tournament.

Ferrell had struck out the first two hitters swinging on 3-2 and 1-2 counts before a five-pitch walk and a home run on a 1-1 fastball to designated hitter Chance Shepard.

“We were talking in the staff meeting, we were saying that after the first couple of hitters, we said, ‘We’ve got him back,’” Schlossnagle said. “He looked really, really good. He made a good pitch; he just got beat.

“The guy was big, strong, hit it out of the ballpark. It’s never happened before. No one has ever hit his fastball out of the ballpark. His homers have been on off-speed pitches.”

Even after Monday night — when Ferrell hit a batter and threw a wild pitch — Schlossnagle retains high confidence in him.

“He’s saved us however many times, a school-record number of times,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s the best pitcher that’s ever stepped on this campus in that role. But nobody’s perfect, and everybody goes through slumps.

“Whenever we play again, if the game’s on the line, you can bet Riley Ferrell’s going to be pitching.”

Which is actually what everyone expects.

“Things happen — guys get hits, guys land on balls like the guy did the other night when he hit that home run,” third baseman Derek Odell said. “I don’t think Riley would ever want me to feel sorry for him, I don’t think he feels sorry for himself, because I’ve got faith in him.

“I have so much trust in Riley Ferrell that no matter how he does, I trust him to the core. There’s a relationship between him and me and him and the rest of the team that has been built through adversity.”

Ferrell has been the one saving TCU for so long, it was unusual for him to be on the receiving end Monday night in the Frogs’ seven-run rally.

“That was crazy,” he said. “I didn’t really know how to take it. I don’t remember the last time that this happened, for me to go out there and fail like that, and literally everybody in the dugout was pulling to pick me up and get us out of that situation and win a ballgame.

“Yeah, it felt really good to have the whole team behind me, even though I’ve struggled.”

The words from Patterson were simply more encouragement.

“I didn’t know this, but he told me he played baseball and football in college,” Ferrell said. “And that he finally had to figure out that baseball wasn’t his thing, for whatever reason.

“But he told me he played, so I’m assuming he knows a little bit about what I’m feeling, what I felt before, and what it feels like to be on top.”

Ferrell might remember soon enough.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

Super Regional

TCU (47-12) vs. A&M (49-12)

Best-of-3 series

at Lupton Stadium

Gm 1: 2 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

Gm 2: 1:15 p.m. Sunday, ESPN

Gm 3: TBA Mon., ESPN, if nec.

Super Regional

TCU (47-12) vs. A&M (49-12)

Best-of-3 series

at Lupton Stadium

Gm 1: 2 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

Gm 2: 1:15 p.m. Sunday, ESPN

Gm 3: TBA Mon., ESPN, if nec.

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