TCU lives up to Schlossnagle’s ‘best baseball’ promise

Coaches say all the time their team can be better.

Jim Schlossnagle was no different.

“Getting ourselves in position to where we play well in all three phases of the game for a three-day period, like we did last weekend and like we did earlier in the season, there’s no doubt we’re capable of that.”

The veteran TCU baseball said that on April 21, three days after a home sweep of Oklahoma.

But the Horned Frogs lost two of three at Oklahoma State the next weekend.

“We have so much margin, I think, to be a better team. Maybe I have too much faith in our guys.”

That quote from Schlossnagle came after a victory in Game 2 of a home series against Texas Tech. But a loss the next day left the Frogs three games out with six to play, leaving them little chance to win the Big 12.

“I just told the team, I still believe our best baseball’s ahead of us. I really do. That doesn’t guarantee anything. But we’re pretty excited.”

That was after a May 10 victory against Stephen F. Austin. It was the second in what turned out to be a five-game winning streak to end the regular season and a seven-game streak overall.

“I’ve said all year long, our best baseball is ahead of us. I think that was this past weekend. I think we’ll perform the same way this upcoming weekend.”

Those words followed a sweep of the Fort Worth Regional, and came days before a Super Regional series victory at No. 4 national seed Texas A&M that vaulted the Frogs to the College World Series.

So it wasn’t just talk from Schlossnagle.

“I thought we were talented enough,” he said Tuesday, speaking to reporters at Lupton Stadium, where the Frogs began their practice week for their Omaha opener on Sunday. “If we played well at the right time. Like any team.”

It turned out to be a very good time. The Frogs have won 14 of 16 games, a run that pushed them to third in the Big 12, captured the conference tournament, earned a home regional and got them past the powerhouse Aggies, who had lost only one series all season and none at home.

It followed an 11-9 stretch at midseason that included the loss of Luken Baker as a pitcher.

The sluggish period from April 6 (a home loss to UT Arlington) to May 14 (an 8-5 loss in Game 2 of a series at Baylor) blunted the momentum of a 22-5 start.

“We went through a lot of adversity at the beginning of the year,” third baseman Elliott Barzilli said. “New team, younger faces. But younger guys have come through — Luken Baker, Josh Watson, Durbin Feltman, the list can go on and on from everyone in the starting lineup to the bench to the bullpen.”

Pitcher Brian Trieglaff said the newcomers hit their stride at the right time.

“The first half, they were getting down the routines, what it was like to play in front of a Division I crowd,” he said. “Now it’s about executing. They know how to play in front of big crowds. Now it’s just baseball.”

Now TCU enters the College World Series as one of the field’s hottest teams. But then, every College World Series team is on a roll. It’s just that for a while, there was doubt whether that roll would happen for the Frogs.

“There was a point in the season where you thought, ‘Man, if we can just get in a regional,’ ” Schlossnagle said. “You wanted those new players to experience postseason. They’ve certainly taken that and run with it.”

Like he he had been saying.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

College World Series

TCU vs. Texas Tech

2 p.m. Sunday, ESPNU

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram