TCU outfielders shine in 9-1 victory Sunday
For a Jim Schlossnagle coached team, its lifeblood is its defense. Sunday afternoon his players put on a clinic in a 9-1 victory over University of Houston.
This season the Frogs’ defense is best in the outfield. Juniors Brance Rivera (right field), Aaron Schultz (center field) and Jason Coats (left field) combine to make one of the best defensive outfields in the country.
Sunday afternoon, Rivera and Schultz both made diving catches to save at least one run each.
“When I got back to the dugout [Trent] Appleby said that Brance’s catch was way better than mine,” Rivera said after win Sunday.”I just got a good jump on the ball and was able to save one or two runs for my team.”
He was exactly right. With two runners already on base, Rivera was able to track down a ball hit down the right field line that would have traveled to the corner for extra bases.
There is really nothing abnormal about the day TCU’s outfielders had today in the field.
“I expect that from them every game, and I tell them I’m going to give them one ball that they are going to have to [dive and catch] each game,” TCU senior pitcher Steven Maxwell said.
Maxwell (3-0) pitched six innings, matching a career high in strike outs with 10.
Rivera is sports a 23 game hit streak in addition to playing great defense in the field. He has a hit in every game this season. Today his hit came in the eighth inning in his last at-bat when Rivera softly hit a high fastball down the right field line for a double.
“I think about [the 23 game hit streak] a little bit, but that just makes me more aggressive,” Rivera said.
It’s Coats, however, who is undoubtedly the best hitter on the team.
“Coats is definitely the best hitter on the team even though the stats may not always show it,” Schultz said.
Schultz hit a grand slam today to open up a large lead for the Frogs. After Schultz’s grand slam, TCU took a 7-0 lead. Schultz now has 17 RBI’s on the year and continues to hit second in Schlossnagle’s lineup.
Schultz’s path to stardom in the outfield hasn’t been prototypical. When he came to TCU, he was an infielder with a potent bat that Schlossnagle could not keep out of his lineup. His first game as a freshman, he played left field as a sort of test run. His sophomore year he moved over to center, and now he is one of the best outfielders Schlossnagle has ever coached.
“There is no way I can match up to Schultzy,” Rivera said. “He is unbelievable out there. He is the best fielder I have ever seen.”
After homers from Coats and Schultz, diving catches from Schultz and Rivera, and the extension of Rivera’s hitting streak, TCU’s outfield is making a case to be one of the best in the nation.