Love that Schloss is pairing the vets with the rookies for room assignments in Omaha. That may help then make their trips in the future.
"Most of the challenges are outside the stadium," Schlossnagle said, "especially when it's your first couple times or with a new team. Being able to handle the media attention, the fans, the 'have I bought enough T-shirts for my girlfriend?' -- all of that stuff, it can overwhelm you."
As a result, Skoug is sharing a room at TCU's downtown Omaha hotel with freshman pitcher Jake Eissler. Howard's roommate on this trip is freshman pitcher Nick Lodolo. Traver and freshman pitcher Cal Coughlin are paired in a room.
Notice a trend?
"It means a lot that coach Schloss trusts," Traver said.
It’s a fascinating matchup: one team that has been excellent on the mound all season, another led by a trio of pitchers that have been incredible in May and June. TCU has more offense, but Florida’s defense is top-notch.
Offensively, the Gators have been challenged at times and enter Sunday with a .262 team batting average.
As the results this season reflect, excelling at the first two areas while not generating prodigious offensive numbers adds up to plenty of close games.
Could that be a plus for Florida?
The Gators’ last five losses in Omaha were by a single run, none with more than five runs on the scoreboard for either team. UF lost two last June, 2-1 to Coastal Carolina and 3-2 vs. Texas Tech.
“There’s such a fine line between winning and losing out here,” O’Sullivan said.
There’s no one out there that wants anyone other than JJ getting the ball in game one. And that says a lot, when you look at the depth and talent in the pen for the Frogs.
“Oh yeah, if he keeps this up, he’s building his name as one of the best pitchers to ever walk through these doors,” catcher Evan Skoug said.
Janczak will get the ball Sunday night against Florida junior Alex Faedo (7-2, 2.55), the 18th player selected in Monday’s first round of the Major League draft and No. 8 in the country in strikeouts (135).
It’s a high-profile matchup, but Janczak’s seen that before.
“He’ll handle it great,” Schlossnagle said. “He matched up well with Virginia’s pitcher. We’ve played a great schedule. He’ll do well.”
It says a lot about Luken, who could be at home pouting, but chose to come to Omaha and try and help his team win off the field.
Schlossnagle isn’t surprised by Baker’s coach-like influence while he’s sidelined.
“Luken’s a smart guy. He’s at TCU not just on a baseball scholarship, but an academic scholarship,” he said. “Really high ACT score. He pays attention to what’s going on. He pays attention to how people are pitching people. I think he adds a lot, and guys respect him. He’s not just a big slug up there trying to hit it as far as he can. He pays attention to what happens during the course of a ballgame. He’s a good resource for everybody.”
One, a traditional power. The other, a rising one. Both would love to bring home their first title.
“That’s what you want to become over the course of time, is a consistent winner at a high level,” Schlossnagle said. “I think the university has committed to the program — I know they’ve committed to the program. And when you have a high level of commitment, if you do the work — and it’s not always perfect, you’re going to have your down time; to be in Omaha every year, that’s crazy. But we should be a consistent NCAA tournament team, and I think we have.”
Only one of the last eight College World Series has been played without Florida or TCU. The Frogs and Gators are the only teams with five CWS appearances this decade.
But Sunday will be their first meeting ever.
TCU hasn’t done anything great over the course of the season, when you look on paper. But they have played their best ball when the pressure is the highest, which is a hallmark of a veteran team.
“If you look at our team across the board, we don’t have a great batting average or awesome ERA or fielding percentage, but we have experience and savvy and presence,” Schlossnagle said at a press conference Friday. “We have a couple of guys that have been in four straight College World Series, four Super Regionals. When you play that level of baseball, you don’t panic in any situation. That’s our best trait.”