TCU’s brief period of rest didn’t seem to affect them--unlike a certain bear who’s been hibernating these past few weeks. After missing a series with Cal Poly the weekend before, the Frogs were back business this weekend in LA. And even with a questionable, extra-innings call that went in favor of USC, the Frogs’ LA trip was undoubtedly a great success. Sure, it would’ve been nice to see them go 3-0, but the crushing loss in extras to USC, followed by a rebound and winning their next two, proves the Frogs’ greatest weapon isn’t Riley Ferrell, it isn’t Preston Morrison, and it isn’t their plethora of young talent--it’s their resiliency.
To Live and Die in LA: Weekend Recap
The Horned Frogs were a hockey check away from finishing the Dodger Classic weekend undefeated. Now, as someone who thought the play at the plate against Sam Houston State was a little ambiguous, this one looked a lot more cut and dry. But then again, I see what I want to see and that won’t change. That’s just sports. I was there in person, and in person, it looked like an interference--so when I watch it on replay, it still looks like interference. I don’t think it was the runner’s intention to check Evan Skoug so violently, as the suicide squeeze and the close play it ignited called for quick reactions. However, you’re not going to convince me that it wasn’t a bad--and at the very least, a lazy call by the homeplate umpire. But what made me the most salty, was the field umpire telling the TCU coaches not named Schlossnagle to go back to the dugout. I’m pretty sure they threatened to eject them...at the end of the game.
Aside from that, USC perhaps impressed me more than anyone else this weekend. They were coming off their first loss of the season, on top of already playing a weak schedule--to which they received plenty of hell for--and they went into this weekend and absolutely went above and beyond what was expected of them. It’s hard to say they dominated, as they had a walkoff against Vandy and their extra-inning win against TCU, but the Trojans were a pleasant surprise nonetheless. No reason they shouldn’t skyrocketed to the Top 10 in every poll. Wheatley, their second starter, who TCU saw Friday, is dynamite and Kyle Twomey, who pitched against Vandy, was one the most exciting players this entire weekend. In regards to TCU's Friday, Mitchell Traver once again, was really impressive; lots of speed, dirty offspeed, and strong command highlighted Traver’s Friday night. Personally, and I hate being on this side of the argument--as I’m usually on the other side--but with two outs, despite his pitch count, TCU would’ve been much better off having Traver finish the inning--before the bullpen allowed USC to break the game open.
While the defense looked a little sloppy the first two games against the hometown teams, everyone recovered quite quickly. Short memories are needed in baseball, and everyone on this team showed that they possess one. Also, has there been a more pleasant surprise than the ascent of Keaton Jones' bat? Up until USC took Wheatley out, Keaton was the only spark keeping TCU alive in that game. His four hit display Friday was slightly upstaged by his go-ahead double against Vandy on Sunday. Keaton finished the weekend with 5 hits, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs--and with those stats, he’ll probably be the Weekend MVP come tomorrow.
Aside from two weird balks and a 1st inning run, Alex Young (8IP, 3 hits, 1 BB, 9Ks) was absolutely brilliant in the UCLA game. After the Bruins scored their first run, and Young’s pitching got better and better with each inning, UCLA--fans and players--completely deflated. So once Riley Ferrell came in, the Bruins were pretty much dead on his arrival. The game also reminded me of how lucky TCU is to have two really strong, and really young, options at catcher. Both Evan Skoug and Zack Plunkett have a lot of work to do, but both are already showing signs of great promise. The ceiling's higher for Skoug, the former No.1 ranked player in Illinois, but having him and Plunkett--who, once he gets his timing down is going to absolutely rake--is going to produce major dividends for this ball club. Elliot Barzilli is the breakout player of the week. The sophomore transfer from Georgia Tech is a threat both offensively and defensively--and whose late game heroics in Westwood set up a very nice TCU win against a really good UCLA team.
Unfortunately, I was taking an Uber from Dodger Stadium to catch a plane, and missed pretty much all of the game on Sunday in person. But Preston Morrison, while his runless streak may have ended, looked as confident as he has been all season. It was also nice to see La Flama Ferrell pick up his 5th save of the year. But more so than Morrison and Ferrell, I was really impressed with Tyler Alexander--at least as much as I’m allowed to for a kid who pitched just over an inning. I’m interested in hearing how y’all feel about this. Should Alexander move to Tuesdays? Should he have another chance at Saturdays? Should he move to Fridays?
Other Random Notes:
I was really, really impressed by everything I saw out there. Both UCLA and USC have absolutely gorgeous campuses--I've seen UCLA's, but never USC's. I interacted with more USC fans than UCLA, but both were super nice. The fields were both incredible, and USC even sells beer: Paging DelConte. And in the cheesiest way, what I loved most was the unbelievable fan support. Both games at USC and UCLA was right about 50% full of Frog fans. Baseball may not write the checks that football does, but every time I see something like that, I remember how lucky we are at TCU to have fans value baseball so much. Now, we just have to work on basketball. All around, just a splendid weekend, and if you followed me on Twitter--thanks for putting up with me. And just be weary about how much I talk about TV: namely; The Americans, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men.
We’ll have "By the Numbers" and Awards tomorrow.