Gil LeBreton

‘Sheriff’ Teakell restores order for Horned Frogs

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, second from right, calls to the bullpen to replace starting pitcher Mitchell Traver, center, in the fourth inning Thursday.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, second from right, calls to the bullpen to replace starting pitcher Mitchell Traver, center, in the fourth inning Thursday. AP

Backed against the double-elimination wall, the TCU Horned Frogs called for the sheriff Thursday night.

Trey Teakell, proud son of a TCU campus police officer, promptly restored law and order.

Teakell spelled starter Mitchell Traver with 4 1/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief, and the Frogs knocked off the LSU Tigers 8-4 to remain alive in the College World Series.

The first three innings Thursday saw the two teams combine for six runs, nine hits and 12 base runners.

But when Traver walked LSU’s Chris Chinea with one out in the fourth inning, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle decided to calm the waters.

Schlossnagle has said it time and again. When Weatherford native Teakell — whose dad, Rick, pitched in college and now serves on the TCU police force — jogs in from the bullpen, the flow of the baseball game abruptly changes. Order is soon restored.

Thirteen LSU batters later, 13 Tigers had gone down. And what had begun as a 3-3 shootout had been transformed into a one-sided, five-run TCU lead.

“The story of the game for us was twofold,” Schlossnagle said. “The big one was Trey Teakell doing the things he’s done for us all season and his entire career. He completely changes the pace of games.

“I was hoping to get through the fifth inning with Traver, but LSU is too momentum-driven.”

LSU coach Paul Mainieri, meanwhile, chose to confront his team’s pitching issues in a decidedly different way.

Lacking a clear-cut third starter this season, Mainieri has resorted to what he calls “Jake WholeStaff,” using multiple pitchers in cameo appearances in relief.

Before the night was through, Mainieri had used eight pitchers, none of them for as much as two complete innings. Zac Person was lifted in the second inning after giving up the first three runs. Hunter Newman was whisked away — somewhat curiously, since he was pitching well — before the fourth inning began.

But when Evan Skoug’s double and Dane Steinhagen’s two-run single piled on three more TCU runs in the fifth inning, Mainieri turned the game into a bullpen merry-go-round.

The LSU stat sheet said that the Tigers were 13-0 for the season when Mainieri employs his Jake WholeStaff pitching scheme.

Whatever. The strategy seems more Vegas than Coaching 101. Newman, for example, had struck out three of the last five Frogs he faced when Mainieri came to yank him.

The bigger dilemma for the Tigers, the consensus No. 1 team in the nation as the NCAA tournament began, was finding a way to get to Teakell.

In two appearances at this College World Series, however, Teakell has retired all 17 hitters he has faced.

Schlossnagle eventually spelled Teakell with two outs in the LSU eighth. Preston Guillory got the final four outs and gave up three hits and the fourth Tigers run.

But by then, the night’s busy beginning had been quelled. Order had been restored. The middle of the TCU lineup had knocked in five runs.

For TCU fans, there’s no need to break out the “S-E-C! S-E-C!” taunts. The LSU program has won six of these College World Series things. And another formidable SEC foe, Vanderbilt, awaits Friday night.

Jake WholeStaff, however, meet Trey FrogStaff. Drafted in the ninth round by the Detroit Tigers, Teakell has the kind of body and stuff that could find him in a major league bullpen for 10 or so years.

In two games here against the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, TCU outscored LSU 18-7 and confronted the Tigers with two dominating pitching performances (Teakell and Preston Morrison).

It’s what the Frogs do. They pitch. They catch the baseball. They pitch some more.

On Thursday, with their season on the line, the season-long formula restored law and order.

Sheriff Teakell made sure of that.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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