The home run numbers are better since the NCAA changed balls last year, but TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle still wouldn’t mind seeing the fences brought in a bit at TD Ameritrade Park.
“Just because of the way the park faces,” he said after the Horned Frogs’ practice Thursday at Creighton. “It faces the south. When you have those warm days and southern winds, I think they could bring it in between left-center and right-center.”
Only four of the 47 College World Series homers hit at TD Ameritrade have gone out to center. They were all last year.
“But it’s definitely better than 2014,” Schlossnagle said. “The wind blew a lot more. They had some storms that week. The park is playing a little bit more to its size versus the wind this week.”
TCU has 13 home runs at the College World Series, nine at Rosenblatt Stadium (Bryan Holaday 4, Jerome Pena 2, Matt Curry, Taylor Featherston, Jantzen Witte) and four at TD Ameritrade Park (Kevin Cron, Luken Baker 2, Cam Warner).
TCU has three of the seven home runs at the CWS this year. Luken Baker and Cam Warner each pulled homers to left field on Sunday afternoon, and Baker went to right field on Tuesday night.
The new park had nine homers in 2011, 10 in 2012, then three in both 2013 and 2014.
Last year, with the introduction of a “flat-seam” baseball designed to carry farther but not result in increased exit velocity, there were 15.
“My biggest issue with the park is not the inability to hit a homer, it’s where the outfielders get to play,” Schlossnagle said.
Asked if a 3-0 lead can feel like a 10-0 lead here, Schlossnagle said that’s a bit of an exaggeration but not that much.
“The foul ground obviously helps, too,” he said. “The whole place is built for pitching. If you have elite pitching, you can smother people.
“If you have just solid pitching, like I think we have solid pitching, the ballpark takes you another step. Because you can make some mistakes, and they hang up in the middle of the field.”
Baker gets the headlines, but Warner has as many home runs in the NCAA postseason.
Both have hit three in eight playoff games, and Warner leads the Horned Frogs with nine RBIs. Baker has seven.
Both have doubled twice, but Baker has walked six times to Warner’s one and struck out six times to Warner’s eight.
“I try not to get too pull-happy,” Warner said. “Some of those ABs against Coastal Carolina, I was a little out front, a little aggressive, I guess. The important thing is getting back to staying in the middle of the field.”
54 Home runs this season by TCU, from nine players. Luken Baker and Josh Watson lead with 11, followed by Evan Skoug with nine and Elliott Barzilli and Dane Steinhagen with seven each.
Leadoff hitter Austen Wade, who has had two bases-loaded walks in the NCAA tournament, is one walk away from the TCU single-season record of 57 set by Matt Curry in 2010.
“I’ve seen my stat sheet — I have almost as many walks as hits,” Wade said with a laugh. “That’s almost kind of disappointing from my standpoint. But I’ve been saying all year, I’ve got good hitters behind me.
“My job is to get on base. We’re trying to score runs. We’re trying to get up early in games.”
Wade is hitting .290 (61-for-210) with an on-base percentage of .439, second on the team to Baker. He’s fourth in runs scored, behind Baker, Evan Skoug and Josh Watson.
“If I can have a good, quality at-bat, whether it’s a hit or an out or a walk, I’m happy with it as long as it’s quality,” Wade said.