With droves of young Horned Frog fans lined up for autographs and a larger-than-normal crowd of media swarming players for soundbites, even someone walking by Lupton Stadium could recognize TCU baseball did something special Monday.
For the team that just earned its second-ever College World Series berth though, it’s business as usual.
“We took some time to celebrate,” TCU first baseman Kevin Cron said. “Ever since then, it’s been about getting back to work…just really focusing on the next task at hand and that’s winning a national championship.”
The fun started with the team dog piling after TCU’s CWS-clinching comeback win over Pepperdine.
“The dog pile hurts, but it’s amazing,” senior catcher Kyle Bacak said. “I still have, kind of like, a surreal feeling. I just remember catching the final pitch, throwing all my stuff and just going to give Riley [Ferrell] a big hug.”
Bacak delivered the game-winning sacrifice squeeze Monday evening to cap the last-minute rally.
“We’ve been battling all year,” Bacak said. “Even when we were down, going into that last inning with three outs left, the mood in the dugout was still, ‘It’s alright. We’re gonna find a way to do this.’”
The Frogs faced elimination and trailed nearly the entire game until the point when it mattered most.
“That’s just how our story’s been written so far this season,” Cron said.
As members of the team would say time and time again, earning a spot in Omaha, Neb., is the continuing of the story rather than the end.
“It’s not over yet,” junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan said. “It’s gonna be a grind all the way through. It’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be tough.”
When TCU’s season meets its end, Finnegan, a first-round selection by the Kansas City Royals, will trade his purple jersey for a professional one. He’s not ready yet though.
“I don’t wanna hang up the jersey just yet,” he said.
“It’s not always the best team at the start of the year with the best talent,” Cron said. “It’s always the team that’s playing the best.
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle echoed Cron’s words later on.
“It’s never about the best team,” he said. “It’s only about the team that plays the best. And that’s what we’re hoping to be.”
“The most talented team is not going to win the World Series. It’s going to be the team that plays the best over the course of the time everybody’s there.”
With 32 wins in their last 36 games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a team playing better than the Frogs.
“Basically, we just refuse to lose,” Bacak said.
Ironically enough, the season’s light switch turned on in a pitchers-only meeting following a 2-1 series loss to Texas Tech. TCU faces the Red Raiders Sunday afternoon.
“I was tired of being called ‘scared,’” Finnegan said.
The Fort Worth native and fellow starter Preston Morrison called the meeting to try and provide a spark to a then-15-12 season seemingly destined for better things.
“Every person in that meeting will tell you that they agreed with everything that was said,” Finnegan said.
“Nothing was being said to hurt anybody’s feelings or anything. It was just saying that this is what we need to do and these are the changes to make it happen.”
Later on in the season, TCU and Tech met again and the Frogs handed Tech a 4-0 shutout. Bacak said he’s eager to face the Red Raiders once again.
“We’re looking forward to [seeing] who’s the better Texas team,” Bacak said.
And even if the Frogs win Sunday, Schlossnagle stressed the importance of continuing to win and staying in the winner’s bracket.
The team leaves for Omaha, Neb., from Amon G. Carter Stadium’s Lot 2 at 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Fans can stop by and send them off then.
Help send us off to Omaha tomorrow morning. The team will depart from Lot 2 at 8 a.m. The party starts at 7:30. pic.twitter.com/0vVgZitv1r
— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) June 11, 2014