For a few times last weekend, the tall No. 40 in TCU’s bullpen would stand up, grab a ball and begin playing catch. He’d start from behind the mound, almost leaping into each throw, before homing in and inching toward the rubber. After a few minutes, he’d look ready.
But for most of the Horned Frogs’ NCAA regional, Trey Teakell was rarely used. Timing and situation left TCU’s do-it-all reliever with three quiet innings Monday, as TCU went into desperation mode against North Carolina State before mounting a comeback.
Teakell was quiet again Saturday against Texas A&M — only after he got the high-pressure call he’d been waiting on. The right-hander started the fifth inning with TCU clinging to a one-run lead in Game 1 of the NCAA super regionals.
“I was trying to get through the fifth inning as best as we could,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said, “but when [A&M reliever Andrew] Vinson came in the game, I knew he was going to change the course of the game for their team. And we needed to do that for ours.”
Teakell, a fifth-year senior making his 85th career appearance, retired 12 of the 13 A&M batters he faced in four shutout innings. He set the Aggies down in order in the fifth, seventh and eighth, and stranded a two-out double in the seventh.
“I was ready to hear my name called like I always am,” Teakell said. “I was pretty much just filling up the strike zone at the bottom, trying to get them out early. I know they like to swing. I just figured I’d execute pitches at the bottom of the zone, and they’d get themselves out.”
In four innings, Teakell induced eight groundouts and threw 49 pitches. TCU starter Tyler Alexander went four innings on 71 pitches. The change of pace stalled the Aggies.
“I guess [Teakell] just kept the ball down a little bit more,” A&M shortstop Blake Allemand said. “He kept the ball down and mixed his pitches good. He wasn’t missing his spots too much, but I guess that was the biggest thing.”
While the Frogs’ veteran starters have racked up wins, and Riley Ferrell has earned saves, Teakell has merely plugged away, maintaining a 1.36 ERA in 46 1/3 innings this year.
“There have been better pitchers here, but he’s been the most valuable pitcher here since I’ve been at TCU,” Schlossnagle said. “He can pitch in any role. He can close a game — he could’ve finished that. He can come in the second inning. He can start. That takes some selfless attitude to do that, because [Riley] Ferrell set a school record for saves — and we don’t keep holds, I think — and Teakell’s been a big part of every one of those saves for Riley.”
As expected, fans from TCU and Texas A&M filled every open space at Lupton Stadium on Saturday.
It was enough for a school record, too, with 7,199 in attendance.
The mark surpassed TCU’s 2011 home opener against Kansas and last year’s Super Regional against Pepperdine.
The stands were full as was the layered berm along the first-base line, the bank behind right field and a standing-room only area down the third-base line.
Outside the stadium, fans gathered near an opening behind left field to catch an obstructed view of the action. Also outside the gates was the TCU football Frog Horn, stationed behind home plate and sounding off each time the Frogs scored.
TCU’s big sixth
With a two-run lead and Teakell cruising, TCU entered the sixth inning in a good spot.
Then the Frogs piled on, scoring five runs on five hits to extend their lead to 11-4.
Garrett Crain, Dane Steinhagen and Cody Jones singled to start the inning, with Crain scoring on Jones’ hit. Connor Wanhanen later walked, and Derek Odell and Evan Skoug singled to drive in runs. In the middle of all that, Jones scored on a wild pitch.
▪ Derek Odell went 4 for 5, driving home TCU runners in the first and sixth. Jeremie Fagnan doubled twice for the Frogs.
▪ Teakell pitched four innings in relief of Tyler Alexander, facing one batter above the minimum on 49 pitches.
▪ Texas A&M had two one-base errors. Fagnan doubled in the first and then advanced to third after right fielder Jonathan Moroney bobbled the ball. Then, in the third, Nolan Brown walked, stole second base and advanced to third when catcher Michael Barash’s throw skipped past shortstop Blake Allemand. The next batter, Keaton Jones, flew out to right field for a sacrifice-fly RBI.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760