With a starting staff that racked up 38 strikeouts against Florida Atlantic this weekend, TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle is justifiably confident in his top three pitchers. Now he’s just looking for one more.
“The challenge now is we got to find that fourth guy,” Schlossnagle said. “I’ll match our starting pitching up with anybody in the country.”
He’ll send senior right-hander Shawn Ferguson to the mound tonight with an eye on solidifying that final spot in the rotation against the Oklahoma Sooners.
Ferguson, making the first start of his TCU career, will try to join Sam Demel (1-2, 3.80 ERA), Jake Arrieta (4-0, 1.37 ERA) and Brad Furnish (1-1, 2.61 ERA), who all pitched at least seven innings and had 14, 13 and 11 strikeouts respectively against FAU.
“We had some real good outings this weekend, and for me it’s just all about going out there and throwing some strikes and giving our team a chance to win – just be consistent and throw a lot of strikes,” Ferguson said.
He said he will approach the start like any outing – feeling no added pressure knowing he has the opportunity to be the final piece in an at-times overpowering staff.
“It would be really great if I could step in and be that fourth guy, just so we have a solid rotation and we know who’s going when,” Ferguson said. “Our team can have that confidence going week to week.”
Ferguson has appeared in four games out of the bullpen this season, going 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 7 1/3 innings. He said he will focus on going after hitters early – trying to get them to put the ball in play instead of going for the strikeout – so he can conserve his energy and go deeper into games.
“For me, it’s just don’t blow it all out in one inning,” Ferguson said. “I’m not saying I’m holding back, it’s just that I try to be more calm and more relaxed and don’t get myself too wound up because the game’s not as tense early in the game as it is in the ninth inning.”
The Sooners (No. 23 Collegiate Baseball) will come into Lupton Stadium at 12-4, riding a three-game sweep of California-Riverside.
Schlossnagle said it doesn’t matter who comes to town – he’s just happy the Frogs (8-6) finally strung together a strong series, taking two of three from FAU.
“We needed to put three good days of baseball together, and I feel like we did that,” he said. “If we do that (tonight), it doesn’t guarantee success, but I trust our club.”
Shortstop Bryan Kervin, who leads TCU with six doubles and a .382 batting average, said the team was disappointed it missed an opportunity to sweep FAU on Sunday, but like Schlossnagle, he is looking for the team to continue playing solid baseball.
“I think we got a lot of positive out of this weekend,” Kervin said. “We got bunts down, threw strikes, made less errors. I think we just need to continue to build on that and have momentum going into Oklahoma.