“I felt like with our starting pitching we had four legit starting pitchers that could give us a chance, and they did,” TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “It’s just Alex Faedo got in the way. Don’t get me wrong they have a great team, but that one guy on the mound can just change everything in this sport.”
The NCAA leader in strikeouts stymied the Horned Frogs again for the second time in a week, leaving TCU one victory away from reaching the finals of CWS for the second year in a row.
Faedo allowed two hits and struck out 11 TCU batters in the first seven innings, equaling the statistics he posted in the two teams’ first contest to open play in Omaha.
Saturday, TCU drew two more walks, four, than the first time they faced Faedo and mustered one more hit, three, in their second matchup with the ace right-hander. Almost every time the Horned Frogs were able to square up a pitch from Faedo, the baseball seemed to find the glove of a Gator defender.
However, TCU had multiple opportunities Sunday with runners on the base. The Horned Frogs were 0-for-2 with a runner in scoring position, 1-for-7 with runners on base and left five runners on base without bringing them around to score.
“I thought our at-bats were significantly better today than they were the last time we faced him, but the chances that we did get, he made pitches,” Schlossnagle said. “The balls we hit seemed to be at somebody, but that doesn’t take away from how outstanding he was, and I’m really proud of our team.”
Nolan Brown struck out swinging to end the second inning following a couple of two-out walks by Connor Wanhanen and Josh Watson. Watson struck out with runners at first and second to conclude the TCU threat in the seventh.
In the eighth, the Horned Frogs put together one last gasp in the eighth inning after an Austen Wade single to left field with one out to finish Faedo’s night, and designated hitter Zach Humphreys singled against closer Michael Byrne, who began the at-bat with a 2-0 count.
Evan Skoug and Cam Warner hit as the tying runs, but Skoug struck out swinging and Warner flew out to right on a ball that looked like it had home run distance coming off the bat, but died on the warning track. .
“I felt like I put a good swing on it, but it seemed that all the balls we were hitting tonight were going to fielders,” TCU second baseman Cam Warner said.
TCU ace Jared Janczak matched up against Faedo in both games and put together a better showing than the first go-around when he walked a season-high five hitters and lasted only four innings. Saturday, Janzcak allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking no one. His record fell to 9-2 on the season with both losses coming opposite Faedo. Gator runs in the second, fifth and seventh innings gave Florida and Faedo enough of a cushion to end TCU’s 2017 campaign.
TCU lost in the second CWS semifinal for the second consecutive year, falling short of their first championship series. After the loss to Florida to begin their stay in Omaha, the Horned Frogs won three elimination games in a row to force Saturday’s second semifinal. TCU defeated Texas A&M 4-1, Louisville 4-3, and Florida 9-2.
Last season, Coastal Carolina won two games out of the elimination bracket against the Frogs on its way to the national championship.
Florida advanced to play LSU, which defeated Oregon State to win the other bracket in the afternoon Saturday game. The best-of-three finals start Monday.
The Horned Frogs, reaching its fourth trip in a row to Omaha and fifth overall, is 11-10 at the College World Series, including 8-8 at TD Ameritrade Park. This season was the first in which TCU had won three elimination games at the CWS.
“Just what an awesome experience it is to be here,” Schlossnagle said. “To be here four years in a row is an incredible accomplishment, but we truly never take it for granted.”
The Horned Frog pitching staff owned the best ERA of the College World Series at 2.45 through 44 innings and did not allow a run to cross home plate in 18.1 innings in Omaha. The relievers did not allow a run to score in the last 23.2 innings they pitched to conclude 2017, dating back to the Fort Worth Regional.
The TCU careers of eight seniors who have been a part of four consecutive trips to Omaha have now come to a close. Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver appeared in all four of the Horned Frogs CWS berths, Elliott Barzilli played in three, and five seniors played in half of TCU’s four consecutive trips to the CWS: Nolan Brown, Mason Hesse, Ryan Merrill, Cam Warner, and Evan Williams.
“It’s a super tough group to lose because you have a combination of some drafted players that most likely sign, and then you have some guys that are seniors that were drafted last year that could have signed,” Schlossnagle said. “All that speaks to is their love for TCU, their love for our program, our fans and our love for them,” Schlossnagle said.
But, TCU has had to reload its roster more than once in its historic four trips to the CWS.
“It’s a tough group to lose, but we’ve lost players before,” Schlossnagle said. “I think what stays true is what they talked about, the culture of a program, our great coaching staff and our awesome administration.”