OMAHA, Neb. — TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said he thought his team might see Vanderbilt again this season. The Horned Frogs took a 4-2 victory over Vanderbilt on March 8 at Dodger Stadium.
“I had a feeling at the end of the game that we were going to play them again, whether it be in the Super Regional or in Omaha,” Schlossnagle said. “And here it is.”
TCU will be the home team for the 7 p.m. Tuesday game at TD Ameritrade Park. The winner advances to a Friday game with a chance to play for a spot in the championship series. The loser plays Thursday against the LSU-Fullerton winner in an elimination game.
In the March 8 game, Preston Morrison got the win and Riley Ferrell the save for TCU. Vanderbilt started Walker Buehler and used him for four innings. Phillip Pfeifer finished the game.
“That was a long time ago,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re a more complete club now than we were then, and I’m sure they are, too.”
Neither Schlossnagle nor Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin announced their starting pitcher Monday. Vanderbilt used John Kilichowski for 2.1 innings and 30 pitches Monday in the resumption of the suspended game against Fullerton. Kyle Wright got two outs on seven pitches.
Corbin said of the rematch, “There’s a lot that’s happened between then and now, and a lot of it is, that game probably doesn’t have that much significance anymore.”
Corbin said TCU’s victory against LSU was “a little bit eye-opening.”
“Very good team, obviously,” Corbin said. “They pitch very well. Older kids, experienced kids who have been here before, a little bit like us. They know how to handle themselves.”
Schlossnagle was the pitching coach on the U.S. national team in 2006 managed by Tim Corbin, the Vanderbilt coach.
“I’m very, very close with Coach Corbin,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve been friends for a long time.”
They are close in numbers, too. Schlossnagle is has a .678 winning percentage and 592 victories in 14 seasons as a head coach. Corbin has a .677 winning percentage and 563 victories in 13 seasons as a head coach.
Schlossnagle said after the game Sunday that Riley Ferrell was likely distracted by the draft as he went through a slump starting May 19 at the Big 12 tournament.
“I think there’s no question there was a pressure in his mind,” Schlossnagle said. “Everybody asks him a thousand questions. He’s got that on his mind.”
Schlossnagle said he aims to be frank with every player about dealing with the draft, but that every player is different.
“It’s something playes are used to, it’s something we talk about,” he said. “I don’t believe in lying to players, hiding things from players. We recognize it, we talk about it, we say, for the rest of your life, there’s going to be distractions, so you’ve got to find a way to separate things off the field from things on the field.
“But it’s a lot easier for a 45-year-old coach to say it versus a 20-year-old kid to do it,” he said.
The Horned Frogs improved to 20-6 in games where the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher. That includes wins in each of the postseason rounds, most recently Monday against LSU’s Jared Poche’.
“When in doubt, the other team throws a lefty,” Schlossnagle said. “When you see it all year long, then eventually you get used to it.”
Schossnagle said it helps the TCU hitters to also see good left-handed pitchers on their own team and the pitching machines in their new indoor facility that simulate breaking pitches from a left-hander.
“A guy like Connor Wanhanen and Evan Skoug gets to see Alex Young and Tyler Alexander and Drew Gooch and Travis Evans — those are similar to what we’re going to see all year,” Schlossnagle said. “Thankful to Mr. Malcolm Louden, one of our largest donors, who helped us build an unbelievable hitting facility, and in there we’ve got all these pitching machines. So they see a left-handed breaking ball every day.”
TCU practiced at Creighton on Tuesday, and Schlossnagle said the players looked sharp and rested.
“They got a little bit of a later wakeup call this morning,” he said. “Had a good visit at the children’s hospital. Much needed. It always is. Guys are excited to get back on the field.”
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407