Andrew Beckwith could have pitched all night.
He just about did, anyway, for Coastal Carolina.
Overhand. Underhand. Inside, outside and upside-down.
Beckwith had whatever-he-has working Friday night, and coach Gary Gilmore went with it.
And went with it. And went with it, until the Chanticleers defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 4-1 to force a one-game showdown Saturday for a spot in the College World Series finals.
Beckwith pitched all nine innings and threw 137 pitches — 137 pitches!
13 Fly-ball outs in the 27 outs made by TCU on Friday night against Coastal Carolina.
I know what you’re thinking. Where was PETA when the TCU Horned Frogs needed them?
Against Beckwith’s mystifying array of sidearm, submarine and sometimes sub-80 mph stuff, the Frogs often were able to launch fly ball after fly ball into the thick Nebraska night.
But that is seldom the recommended strategy at the home of the NCAA College World Series. The baseball may be a little livelier, but TD Ameritrade Park is still the place where fly balls come to die.
Beckwith struck out five, but 13 of the 27 outs came via fly balls.
“We did have some good swings on him,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “But we had a lot of bad swings, too. He had us off-balance, and that’s what he does.”
While the difference clearly was Beckwith, TCU picked the wrong night to unveil its B-game. Starter Mitchell Traver, who pitched longer and better than he has all season, aided Coastal Carolina’s two-run third inning by hitting Billy Cooke on a 1-2 pitch.
One out later, the Frogs were indecisive on a safety squeeze play. A grounder to shortstop was botched, and a second run scored on a sacrifice fly.
That’s all it took on a night when the 19 mph breezes were blowing in from center field.
“We didn’t play sound baseball tonight, but they played outstanding baseball,” Schlossnagle said. “They didn’t have any errors. How many walks? One.
“When you don’t win the freebie war, there’s a real good chance you’re not going to win the game.”
The biggest thing in this park is if you throw a ton of strikes and don’t walk guys, it’s tough to score here. I don’t care who you are.
Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore
The Frogs finished with six hits, but seldom enjoyed an at-bat with a runner in scoring position. A double-play grounder by Luken Baker ended a mild TCU threat in the first inning. Josh Watson’s double in the next inning went for naught when he was picked off second base.
The Frogs’ only run came on a solo home run to left field by Dane Steinhagen in the eighth inning.
“The biggest thing in this park,” said Coastal’s Gilmore, “is if you throw a ton of strikes and don’t walk guys, it’s tough to score here. I don’t care who you are.”
You don’t have to tell the Frogs that, of course. Schlossnagle has brought TCU teams here to play in venerable Rosenblatt Stadium and in its 6-year-old pitcher-friendly replacement.
The combination of Beckwith and the windy night, Schlossnagle said, was more than enough on an evening when the Frogs just weren’t sharp.
And again, he did a really good job of pitching to the ballpark.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on Coastal Carolina pitcher Andrew Beckwith
“It’s everything,” he said about Beckwith’s repertoire. “It’s his ability to manipulate the baseball, and his ability to speed you up and slow you down.
“He doesn’t give in to hitters. He’s just not going to serve you a pitch.
“And again, he did a really good job of pitching to the ballpark.”
Throwing from a dizzying array of angles, Beckwith shrugged off every mighty TCU swing.
Of his 137 pitches, 101 were strikes — which may or may not be a College World Series record.
Gilmore and the Chanticleers just went with it.
And went with it. And went with it.
All the way until it meant another game.