OMAHA, Neb. — Some of Tyler Alexander’s best starts have come in postseason games for TCU. Now he gets a chance for another one.
The sophomore left-hander from Southlake Carroll drew the assignment for Friday night’s College World Series game against Vanderbilt, with TCU two wins from the championship series but facing elimination with a loss.
There will be pressure. There will be a crowd.
But he likes that.
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“I like the atmosphere, when the stadium’s full over there, when the stadim’s packed and everyone’s loud and all jacked up,” he said in an interview two weeks ago after he threw six perfect innings to start a complete-game victory against N.C. State with the Frogs facing elimination in the Fort Worth Regional.
It was his third complete-game postseason victory. He threw one against Oklahama State in the Big 12 tournament championship game in 2014 and another to win the Fort Worth Regional against Sam Houston State in 2014.
In NCAA postseason games, he is 2-0 with a 3.49 earned-run average in five starts and one relief appearance covering 28.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and two walks.
He will take the mound Friday opposite Walker Buehler for Vanderbilt.
“I like pitching with a lot of pressure,” Alexander said. “So maybe the atmosphere gets me going a little bit more. But the other stuff is the same.”
The “other stuff” is his preparation, routine and demeanor.
Alexander, drafted in the second round by the Detroit Tigers last week, has a reputation for being meticulous about getting ready for a start and for controlling his emotions better than any other pitcher on the staff.
“He is more even-keeled than any other baseball player that I have ever met in my entire life,” senior third baseman Derek Odell said two weeks ago. “And I’ve met a lot. I only wish that I could have his demeanor, especially being a hitter. He takes the highs as they are, the lows as they are, never gets too excited, never gets too upset with himself. He’s just a cool cat, man.”
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle used the same word.
“As cool as the other side of the pillow,” he said. “He’s a cool cat. But his best tool is exactly that – he is constantly in charge and in control of his emotions. We have some pitchers on our team who have and who should continue to learn a lot from him. Part of that is his personality, and part of that is the way he was raised.”
Alexander cracked a smile when he was asked about being a “cool cat.”
He said it relaxes him.
“Everybody who watches me knows that I’m really releaxed on the mound,” he said. “The music I listen to is slow. It’s kind of a calm, sort of (ticked) off demeanor out there – I’m ready to go, I’m pumped up, but I’m not going to show it. I keep it in. I’ll show my emotions every once in a while; when Derek made a great play for me and Jeremie Fagnan made a great pick at first, I got a little excited. But for the most part, I try to stay calm and just execute my pitches.”
That’s all the Frogs will ask for Friday night. Cool?
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407
TCU vs. Vanderbilt
7 p.m. Friday, ESPN
TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha
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TCU to Saturday game vs. Vanderbilt with win