Over the weekend, Aaron Fitt of DI Baseball released his “All Omaha Team”, highlighting the best players to take part in the College World Series since the beginning of the Super Regional Era, a time period that spans two decades. TCU had just one representative - despite five appearances over that span - honorable mention Preston Morrison.
Frogs O’ War reader Reed Simpson didn’t think that was good enough, and thus presented the following challenge over twitter:
Well, that seemed like a fun exercise to me, so I dove in.
If you disagree (no chance!), let me know in the comments. It was tough work pouring through five years of rosters and stats, but it was also an enjoyable walk down memory lane. For this exercise, I picked one starter at each position to go with a four man rotation and four bullpen arms.
Only stats and performances in Omaha were used to select the lineup.
Game 1: Matt Purke (LHP): The consensus National Freshman of the Year made two starts in TCU’s first ever College World Series appearance, going 2-0, striking out nine batters, and posting a 1.35 ERA on his way to being named to the All-Tournament Team. He’s a no brainer for game one.
Game 2: Preston Morrison (RHP): One of the most consistently great pitchers to wear the purple and white, Morrison was a key cog in two of the Frogs’ College World Series runs. As a junior in 2014, Morrison beat Texas Tech by twirling a gem in the opener, going 7 1⁄3 innings against the Red Raiders while striking out a career-high ten batters and allowing just a single run. As a senior, he beat LSU in another CWS opener, holding the Tigers to one run on five hits across seven innings of work. He came back later in the tournament, pitching two innings against Vanderbilt five days later.
Game 3: Alex Young (LHP): After facing just one batter in his first CWS appearances - a strikeout against Ole Miss, Young had one of the best starts by a TCU pitcher in Horned Frog history in year two. In what has become one of the biggest gut-punch moments in TCU fan history, Young carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Vanderbilt, before an in-game interview with Jim Schlossnagle by a not-to-be-named ESPN employee mentioned it - and the jinx was promptly on as the Dores hit a solo shot that proved the difference in a 1-0 game. Alex tied a CWS record with 12 strikeouts, but that would be the end of his Series and his TCU career.
Game 4: Brian Howard (RHP): Crazy to think that one of the few players in TCU Baseball history to be a part of four College World Series teams in four seasons is relegated to fourth starter, but if you end up with your season on the line, not many are better than Howie. As a sophomore, he pitched against LSU - his first CWS work. By his junior year he was nearing “ace” status, and lived up to the billing in the Frogs’ win over Coastal Carolina in the championship series - striking out seven while allowing just one run on six hits across 5 2⁄3 innings. He was brilliant as a senior, especially in the postseason, and made his final start as a Frog a memorable one - pitching seven innings against Texas A&M in Omaha while striking out a career-high 12.
Trey Teakell (RHP): Teakell was just okay in his first CWS appearance, taking a tough-luck loss against Virginia despite allowing just one base runner across 2 2⁄3 innings and giving up one run on two hits in 2 1⁄3 innings in TCU’s run-ending loss to Ole Miss. But as a senior, he was brilliant in Omaha, retiring all 17 batters he faced across two appearances and picking up one win in the process.
Sean Wymer (RHP): Wymer pitched in just one College World Series, but he was masterful in his chance, retiring all six batters he faced against Texas A&M in the opener to earn a save and notching a win over Louisville by striking out five in 4.1 innings while allowing just two hits in the process.
Riley Ferrell (RHP): Ferrell did it all for the Frogs in his time on campus, but was best known for intimidating the hell out of opposing batters with a fireball of a fast ball and a nasty glare. He brought that to Omaha on multiple occasions, picking up a win against Texas Tech and going four innings against UVA - allowing just two base runners while striking out four. The next season, he struck out eight of the nine batters he faced in two games, striking out the side against LSU and knocking off five of six against Vanderbilt in his final appearance as a Frog.
Durbin Feltman (RHP): Not many teams can put two guys in the bullpen like Ferrell and Feltman; the latter who is best known for his reaction to ending the Aggies season in College Station during the Super Regional round, but who also struck out seven batters in his first appearance in Omaha as a freshman - earning a save in game one and going three scoreless innings in his second appearance of that season. As a sophomore, he made just one appearance, striking out five of the six batters he faced against Florida. Not bad, Durbs.
1B: Luken Baker: What can you say about Luken Baker, other than it’s an absolute travesty that he was only healthy for one College World Series run? He certainly made the most of his one and only opportunity though, launching a game-winning home run against Texas Tech in the opener and putting one in the seats two days later against the Chanticleers. Recently promoted Kevin Cron was also in consideration here.
2B: Garrett Crain: (editor’s note: Garrett was kind enough to point out on twitter that we only credited him with one CWS appearance, though he made two. We have corrected that.) Garrett Crain gets the nod in the middle for his defensive acumen, as he was a rock up the middle in his two College World Series appearances. He also have a couple of crucial hits against UVA in his first go round and two more hits in year too.
3B: Elliott Barzilli: Third base is a battle between Barzilli and Derek Odell, but Barz was slightly better in his two trips to Ameritrade. The Georgia Tech transfer had two hits in his first trip to Omaha but was great as a senior, five hits in three games including two each against A&M and Florida.
SS: Keaton Jones: The previous Iron Man Horned Frog, Jones is arguably the best defensive player of the Jim Schlossnagle era. No matter what he did with the bat, Jones is a lock for the All-Omaha team for what he did at the short stop position; but he did go 2-2 against Texas Tech in 2014 and collected two hits and an RBI the following year at the CWS.
C: Evan Skoug: This is one of the toughest choices to make, as both Skoug and Bryan Holaday have strong cases. Holaday was the better defensive catcher and made the College World Series All-Tournament team, but Skoug was an offensive juggernaut in three CWS appearances, starting every game in Omaha. As a true freshman, he collected four hits in Omaha; the following season he had six hits in three games and in his final trip - after hitting a game winning home run in the Super Regional championship game, he posted a two hit, three RBI game in Florida to stave off elimination.
Jason Coats: Coats was a critical cog in the first TCU CWS team, knocking in three runs in a win over Florida State and collecting in two hits against UCLA.
Austen Wade: Wade turned a great junior season into a fifth round draft pick, and bolstered his stock with a solid CWS campaign that year as well. Wade went 2-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored against Florida and notched an RBI single against the Cardinals as well. As a sophomore, he had three total hits in his first College World Series action.
Josh Watson: In his first two seasons, Josh started every game of the season, including in Omaha, hitting safely in all four games as a freshman and going 2-3 with a triple and a pair of runs scored in the win over Florida.
Cody Jones: Jones was one of the most dynamic players to suit up for TCU, using his speed and defensive acumen to wreak havoc on opponents. He was hitless in his senior year in Omaha, but was on base in three of the four games and scored five runs. The previous season, he was 2-4 with two runs scored in the opener and knocked in a run in the finale.
DH: Matt Curry: I mean, can you put anyone else there when you have a player in the wings who is responsible for possibly the biggest hit in Horned Frog history? After an 0-5 start in the Frogs’ first-ever CWS game, Curry tallied two hits and a run in game two, leading to his eighth inning grand slam that put TCU on top of Florida State in come from behind fashion. He would collect one more hit and score two more runs in the Frogs’ final two games.
Any glaring oversights or wrong choices? Drop them in the comments!