Well, against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on a rainy Friday night at Lupton Stadium, the pitchers showed up — but the Frogs brought their bats too, just in case.
Mitchell Traver threw five shutout innings and Cam Warner launched a deep two-run shot to highlight a 7-0 win for TCU as the Frogs began their run to Omaha.
It was a true team effort for the Frogs, as four pitchers contributed to the shutout and each batter had exactly one hit.
Some of those hits, however, like Warner’s home run and Michael Landestoy’s two-strike single in the bottom of the 6th, were more important than others, said head coach Jim Schlossnagle postgame.
“Michael’s at bat there in the sixth inning with two strikes and the runner going was a big part of the game,” Schlossnagle said. “And then, obviously, Cam hit one out of the ballpark.”
Warner’s shot came off of a hanging breaking ball on the first pitch, something that he said he wasn’t surprised by.
“Coach came to me before the at-bat when the new guy [ORU’s Josh McMinn] came in,” Warner said, “and [Schlossnagle] actually said, ‘heads up, first pitch, you might get a hanging breaking ball.'”
“And, funny thing is, I got a hanging breaking ball.”
Schlossnagle said the homer helped take some pressure off and allow the Frogs to “use some different guys in the bullpen to be a little more rested for tomorrow.”
Those different guys — Brian Trieglaff, Preston Guillory, and Dalton Brown — are part of what Schlossnagle contends is one of the most important units for the Frogs.
“That’s been the M.O. all year. We really like our bullpen,” Schlossnagle said. “Whether it be because of coming back from injury like Mitchell, or just lack of performance [from the starters], the one good thing about our bullpen is that it gets used a lot.”
The Frogs were able to work the count early. Oral Roberts’ Bryce Howe walked at least one batter in all of his six innings, and TCU drew 8 walks from Howe on the day.
Howe threw 116 pitches, but allowed just two earned runs. TCU scored their first run of the game in the first inning on a throwing error, and the two sides would fail to score again until TCU’s big sixth inning.
While Howe was pitching in and out of jams in nearly every inning, Traver was able to largely stay efficient.
Oral Roberts went down in just seven pitches in the 2nd inning, and Traver averaged 12 pitches per frame in his five innings of work.
The closest Oral Roberts came to scoring was in the 4th, when they loaded the bases. Traver was able to get out of that jam, and the Golden Eagles never seriously threatened again.
Oral Roberts was able to make solid contact on several pitches, but the ball seemed to always find a TCU fielder.
“They were taking big swings on the fastball early in the count,” Traver said, “and it just so happened that a lot of the time, the ball was going right to guys.”
Field conditions were an issue for both teams, as continual showers throughout the day pushed the start time of the game back from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45. TCU right fielder Austen Wade took a tumble in the 4th inning while chasing a deep ball, and every outfielder was extra careful with their footing.
Oral Roberts’ right fielder Noah Cummings let out a chuckle when asked about the state of Lupton Stadium.
“It was wet out there,” Cummings said. “Every step you took, there was splashing going on.”
Schlossnagle said the field was the softest he could remember since a new drainage system was installed at Lupton Stadium nearly a decade ago.
“I even made the statement before the game to the guys running the tournament, ‘if we get one more shower, I don’t know if it’s safe to play,'” Schlossnagle said. “It was scary out there.”
TCU next takes the field Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against Gonzaga, who knocked off Arizona State 5-1 in the early game on Friday. ASU and Oral Roberts will meet in an elimination game tomorrow at 11 a.m.
Jared Janczak is expected to take the mound for the Frogs tomorrow.