Preston Morrison has pitched a long time at TCU, but never better than last weekend when he matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts against North Carolina State in the Fort Worth Regional, coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen Preston Morrison pitch. Ever,” Schlossnagle said. “Ever.”
Morrison, who will start a game this weekend in the Super Regional series against Texas A&M, went eight innings with 110 pitches against NC State. He gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits, walked two and had a wild pitch.
“He touched 90 mph, which doesn’t make him better. But he was in command of three pitches,” Schlossnagle said.
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It was a welcomed return to form for Morrison, who had given up 20 runs (15 earned) in his previous five starts and had averaged 5 1/3 innings in his last three.
He lasted only 3 1/3 innings in his Big 12 tournament start against Texas Tech, allowing seven runs on seven hits.
“I think his pride was hurt a little bit,” Schlossnagle said. “That’s an example of where the 0-2 thing in the Big 12 tournament was really good for him, because he got back to some drill work, some things that maybe you don’t have time to do between starts during the season.”
After the NC State game, Morrison said he was able to get better height on his pitches and visualize them.
“I was a little more comfortable,” he said. “I just kind of found a groove, I guess.”
Morrison owns the TCU records for starts (59), innings (453) and innings in a season (129 2/3 last year). His 37 victories rank second. The Horned Frogs are 42-17 in his starts all time and 12-2 this year.
This week, Schlossnagle told Morrison not to change a thing.
“I grabbed him after our meeting — had my hand on his shoulder — and said, ‘Hey, man, whatever you ate, however you practiced, however you slept, do it the exact same way,’” Schlossnagle said. “Because he was good that day.”
Schlossnagle said setup reliever Trey Teakell “looked good” in his lone appearance of the regional tournament Monday against NC State, but that he hit a wall after pitching three innings.
“His velocity ticked down. They were starting to get a little bit better swings on him,” Schlossnagle said.
Teakell, the most versatile and effective of the Horned Frogs’ relievers, threw 43 pitches in three shutout innings. He gave up four hits and struck out two, with six flyball outs.
It was his only action after an 11-day layoff.
“He needed to pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
TCU ended up needing five games’ worth of pitching in the regional tournament. This weekend, there are only three games’ worth, barring extra innings. For Schlossnagle, it means managing the opportunities in the bullpen.
“In a shorter series, your depth of pitching doesn’t come into play as much,” he said. “Now it’s more about, do we need an Alex Young to get an out in the first game? That kind of thing.”
TCU signee Luken Baker of Conroe Oak Ridge was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year this week. The senior is 12-0 with a 1.02 ERA and 120 strikeouts, but is expected to be a top pick in the major league draft next week.
The Houston Chronicle reported that he emailed all the MLB teams last week telling them he intended to honor his letter of intent to TCU.
“We talked about it and prayed about it a lot and decided that going to school would probably be the best option for me,” Baker told the Houston newspaper. “It’s for a lot of different reasons, but especially for the development. I feel like that’s the best way, the best track, for me to make it to the ultimate goal baseball-wise, which is the major leagues.”
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760