TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said again he believes in closer Riley Ferrell, the school’s record-holder for saves who couldn’t get an out in the ninth inning Monday night. But he said he wants to find a game situation for him with less pressure.
Ferrell hit a batter and walked a batter to start the ninth inning with the Frogs leading 4-2 in Monday’s Game 3 of the Super Regional against Texas A&M and was pulled; the base runners came around to score and tie the game before TCU won 5-4 in 16 innings.
“I’m not giving up on him. Not for one second,” Schlossnagle said.
It was the fourth consecutive appearance in which Ferrell blew a save, lost a lead or tie, or could not finish the inning. Ferrell, 32-for-34 all-time in saves at TCU, has not nailed down a victory since May 15 at Oklahoma. His save the day before against OU clinched the Big 12 regular-season championship.
“He’s been working like crazy,” Schlossnagle said. “Hopefully we get a chance to play a game where we can get him some work without so much being on the line. But he’s the best that’s ever walked on this campus at that position.”
Ferrell, a junior right-hander from College Station, was taken by the Houston Astros in the third round of the major league draft Tuesday.
Schlossnagle said last week that if Ferrell returned for a senior season, he would likely be turned into a starter because of the losses the Horned Frogs will take to graduation.
Freshman designated hitter Connor Wanhanen’s two-run homer in the sixth inning was almost forgotten by the time the winning run scored in the 16th. But not by him — it was his first home run and the hardest ball he hit this year.
“It’s been awhile since that happened,” he said. “Honestly, I couldn’t feel the ball come off the bat. I knew I hit it well. After that, it was adrenaline going around the bases.”
The homer gave the Horned Frogs a 4-1 lead.
“He hasn’t hit one like that in batting practice,” Schlossnagle said. “Hopefully that will be part of his game one day. Put a good swing on it. Squared it up.”
Schlossnagle said he asked the umpire to check for a foreign substance on the glove of Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Hendrix on Monday.
“I’ve coached a few guys who had great breaking balls, who would maybe come up with a little pine tar here and there to help them get a little bit of a grip on a night like today,” Schlossnagle said. “I hated to do that. He kept going to the back of his mitt.”
Schlossnagle said it’s the first time in his career he’s asked for that.
“I asked the umpire a couple of innings before, and he didn’t want to do it,” Schlossnagle said. “Eventually, my job — I work at TCU, and my job is to represent the best interests of TCU. And so I just wanted him to check. Ryan’s a great pitcher, and no disrespect. That’s my job.”
‘Best game ever’
Schlossnagle called the 16-inning contest the “best baseball game that I’ve ever been a part of” and lauded the Aggies.
“I’m very wary of celebrating or saying too much great about our team for fear of diminishing the effort of Texas A&M,” he said. “Unbelievable competition between our school and their school. The fans were unbelievable on both sides. Just a classic baseball game. I think one of the greatest games ever — had to be — considering what was on the line. Really proud of my team and really proud to be on the same field with Texas A&M.”
Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said, “If you’re a baseball fan, you couldn’t ask for anything more. Game 3 of a Super Regional to get to Omaha goes 16 innings, and it just breaks my heart that it had to end the way it did.”
Super Regional notes
▪ TCU improved to 36-29 all-time in NCAA postseason games and 7-7 in Super Regional games.
▪ TCU is 16-4 in postseason games at Lupton Stadium and finished a 33-4 home season, a school record for home wins in a season.
▪ The Frogs set a pitching record with 25 strikeouts in the game.
▪ Shortstop Keaton Jones’ five RBIs led the team during the Super Regional.
▪ TCU used only its regular lineup except for two at-bats by Evan Williams, who pinch hit in extra innings Monday.
▪ Evan Skoug caught all 34 2/3 innings for TCU, receiving 524 pitches in the three games. He was charged with two passed balls and made no errors while hitting .357.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407
Tickets are available through the NCAA on its website. No tickets for the public are available through TCU.
TCU vs. LSU
2 p.m. Sunday, ESPN
TD Ameritrade Park
Records: TCU 49-13, LSU 53-10