Gil LeBreton

In the end, TCU was overpowered by Vanderbilt pitching

TCU players watch from the dugout in the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game against Vanderbilt in Omaha, Neb., Friday, June 19, 2015. Vanderbilt defeated TCU 7-1 and advances to the championship series.
TCU players watch from the dugout in the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game against Vanderbilt in Omaha, Neb., Friday, June 19, 2015. Vanderbilt defeated TCU 7-1 and advances to the championship series. AP

The coach’s grim description matched the TCU postgame mood.

“We ran into a heck of a pitcher who just smothered us,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

“And we never really recovered.”

Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler performed the smothering, and his Commodores teammates took care of the rest Friday night, silencing the Horned Frogs 7-1.

In two games against Vandy at this College World Series, the Frogs scored only one run against the defending national champs.

“I think Vanderbilt has a heck of a team, and they’re certainly playing as good as anybody in the country right now,” Schlossnagle said. “But we felt we were good enough to play with them. We just didn’t play as well as they did today.”

Unlike a year ago when teams and spectators alike went home muttering about the ballpark, the Omaha headwinds and the bats that felt like they were swinging with yesterday’s newspapers, the Frogs’ latest premature departure from the College World Series was best explained on the scoreboard.

Buehler was outstanding, holding the Frogs to four hits and striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

“The key for us was we were going to have to pitch with him,” Schlossnagle said. “That was our only chance.

“There aren’t too many teams that can pitch with us, and that’s one of them.”

On a night, however, when the Frogs needed to match Buehler’ s asphyxiating performance, TCU starter Tyler Alexander couldn’t get out of the third inning.

Vandy pounded him for seven hits and three runs, and relievers Brian Trieglaff and Preston Morrison couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Alexander likely would like to forget his two visits to the College World Series. In two starts, including last year’s against Ole Miss, the Southlake Carroll lefty gave up 13 hits and six runs in 5 2/3 innings, both of them games in which the Frogs were eliminated.

But in the quiet aftermath, Schlossnagle dusted off one of his old College World Series standbys.

“There are no bad days in Omaha,” he said. “Some are just better than others.”

Schlossnagle repeated his belief that he “felt good about our club, felt that it’s a national championship caliber team.

“Things today just didn’t go our way.”

Unlike TCU’s previous trips here in 2010 and 2014, the Frogs felt they had the entire checklist covered — deep starting pitching, dependable relief pitching, solid fielding, athleticism. All the right stuff.

“I think every coach wants a perfect team,” Schlossnagle said. “More offense, more power?

“Sure. We think we know what the recipe is for fielding a winning baseball team.”

In the end, the Frogs’ narrow deficiencies betrayed them. Their starting pitcher was out-pitched by Vandy’s, who happens to be one of the nation’s best. Vandy’s power also showed, when Rhett Wiseman’s slugged a two-run home run in the fourth inning to break open the game.

It was his 15th of the season. The Frogs’ home run leader was freshman Evan Skoug, who hit seven.

“We don’t hit a lot out of the ballpark,” Schlossnagle said. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes. We get something going with two on in the fourth inning, and Skoug hits into a double play. Last night he doubled.”

In his postgame remarks, Schlossnagle repeatedly paid tribute to the “special bunch” that made it to the College World Series for a second consecutive year.

“This probably has been my favorite team to coach,” he said. “You hear the expression, ‘Never say die,’ that was this team.

“It was just a special team.”

Some days in Omaha, the coach reminded, are just better than others.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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