The Horned Frogs changed practice sites at the last minute the other day. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle had a reason, a good one, all figured out.
He started Brian Howard in TCU’s Game 2 of this College World Series. Again, Schlossnagle had it all figured out.
If a mosquito lands on a baserunner’s nose, Schlossnagle probably already has a plan for it.
Hot weather? A flat tire on the team bus? Seven runs down to North Carolina State in an NCAA regional?
Schlossnagle, trust me, has already thought about it and has a plan.
But finally, he had nothing Tuesday night. Schlossnagle and the Frogs had just won their second game of the College World Series for the first time, firmly positioning them in the bracket’s driver’s seat, and the coach confessed that he was at a loss for how to handle it.
“I don’t know,” he said after TCU’s 6-1 victory over Coastal Carolina. “We’ve never won a Game 2 before, so . . . .”
Fear not, though. The Coach Who Thinks of Everything already was executing a plan.
“I sent out a couple of text messages to some friends of mine who have won Game 2 within three minutes of the last out being recorded,” Schlossnagle said.
“I will seek counsel on that.”
His first decision: No practice Wednesday. No baseball.
Here are a few other observations and reactions from a somewhat milestone night at the College World Series for the Horned Frogs:
1, Luken Baker lofted a big, opposite-field home run. Evan Skoug threw out two Coastal Carolina runners and snuffed the Chanticleers running game.
But Schlossnagle already had a story angle picked out for the assembled media.
“Ryan Burnett is the story,” Schlossnagle said in the hallway outside the Frogs clubhouse.
In the interview room a few minutes later, it was more of the same.
“I thought Ryan Burnett is certainly the story of the game,” Schlossnagle said, firmly making his pitch.
“To come in there, having not pitched all that much, was outstanding.”
Burnett, whose two previous TCU seasons were virtually wiped out by injuries, faced 10 batters over the final three-plus innings. He retired all 10.
The Frogs continued Tuesday to get stellar relief work out of their bullpen. Schlossnagle noted that for the fourth game in a row, a reliever retired the first hitter he faced.
“That’s important in any baseball game,” Schlossnagle said, “but it’s really important here to be able to stop innings.”
2, Only six teams in college baseball had more stolen bases this season than Coastal Carolina’s 107.
But when the Chanticleers’ Anthony Marks led off the first inning with a walk and promptly tried to steal second base, TCU catcher Evan Skoug gunned him down.
And when Coastal put runners on first and third with two outs in the third inning, the Chants’ Michael Paez dashed from first at the back end of an attempted double steal — and Skoug, again, gunned the runner down.
It was a gutsy play because the score was only 1-0 at the time, and had Paez slid into second base safely, Kevin Woodall was racing for home and the Frogs would have handed Coastal the tying run.
“Evan’s a better thrower than people give him credit for,” Schlossnagle said. “And when we give him a chance as a pitching staff to throw somebody out, he’s throwing them out.
“He’s really improved defensively over the course of this past year. He’s going to be the catcher on the USA national team this summer, and you don’t get that if you can’t catch. You’re playing the Japanese and the Cubans, and you’ll get exposed quickly. He’ll do a great job.”
3, By winning their second consecutive game, the Frogs suddenly find themselves all dressed up and with nowhere to go for a couple of days.
They won’t play again until Friday night, when they face the winner of the Texas Tech-Coastal Carolina game.
One more victory will send them into the College World Series finals. In fact, because of the schedule, the Frogs could end up playing only one game over the next five days.
What will they do, pitcher Mitchell Traver was asked?
“We’ll rest up, get back into it and get ready to go,” Traver said, giving the standard response.
No, really. With practice called off Wednesday, Traver was asked how the Frogs would be spending their day.
“You know,” he said, “we’ve been talking a lot about a pool day, so I guess we’ll see what happens.
“We’ll get some sun and show off these farmer tans. It’ll be great.”