Arkansas’ pitching really had TCU’s number of the weekend, as the Horned Frogs eeked out just one run in two games against one of the top pitching staffs in the country.\
It was a disappointing end to the season, sure, but it’s hard to be too sad about the fight these Frogs showed and the way they battled the last month or so of the season, earning one of the last four seeds in a 64 team tournament and doing everything they could to stay alive to the bitter end.
We will have time to reflect on the players leaving with the draft coming soon, and will look back on the season more in depth in the coming days. But, for now, one last good back and ugly from the Fayetteville regional.
TCU’s offense exploded for five home runs in five games, including three of the two run variety in Sunday afternoon’s elimination game. 23 runs is nothing to sneeze at, either, and there’s really no shame in being stifled by a pitching staff that had a sub 4.00 ERA all season and a pair of starters that combined for 17 wins and over 200 strikeouts.
Speaking of pitching, after a nightmare of a first inning Sunday evening, it was great to see Jared Janczak string together a stretch that had us sentimental for the senior in his final appearance in purple. JJ’s last two starts were damn good; he went 6.0 innings against Oklahoma State in OKC striking out 12 and allowing just two runs in a win or go home game, and followed that up with a stretch of eight straight retired and eight strikeouts over a three inning stretch yesterday. Someone is going to take a flyer on the redshirt senior in the late rounds; whether he keeps playing or not is harder to say. What we do know, though, is that the veteran righty showed that he has more that enough in the tank to play pro ball.
Oh, and one last note - the defense was really good when it mattered most! Finally!
The Frogs couldn’t get anything going against the Hogs in Fayetteville, and fell victim to the exceptional pitching and timely hitting of the country’s fifth ranked team. Arkansas will be a serious player for a return trip to Omaha, and the matchup with Ole Miss will be a fun one for college baseball fans.
I SWEAR TO GOD...
If I had to hear ONE MORE TIME about the mother-bleeping SEC and the bleeping KNOWLEDGEABLE FANS of the Razorbacks, I was going to throw something through my TV. For those of you that weren’t smart enough to simulcast the excellent Chuck LaMendola with the muted TV, you missed out on some serious slobbering from the booth over the host team, probably because one of the announcers was an Arkansas Baseball alum. We get it. You played there. Good for you. We get it. It’s a big stadium with lots of people in it. Good for them. We get it. Arkansas fans know that getting a starting pitcher’s pitch count up with foul balls is good strategy. Good for everyone.
But none of this is rocket science, folks.
Stuffing 10,000+ into a college baseball stadium (that has a 13,000+ capacity) is certainly impressive, and their fans were loud as hell. But, having sat on top of people in the ivy at the old Lupton with an illegally high number of people for the 2015 TCU vs Texas A&M Super Regional series, I am nonplussed.
Big deal. People showed up for the home team and mostly understood when to cheer and when not to cheer. That doesn’t make them any better or any more special than any other college baseball fan.
Oh, and Calling the Hogs is up there with Boomer Sooner for being the most annoying thing in college sports.
But also... Arkansas is really good, congrats on your win.
Also also... at least we aren’t West Virginia. (I am so sorry)
Sunday afternoon’s collision between Johnny Rizer and Josh Watson was the kind of full-speed, head-to-head accident that guys don’t usually bounce up from.
Somehow, not only were both guys okay - staying in the game and playing that evening - but Rizer HELD ON TO THE DANG BALL! The incredible catch went from being a three run inside the park home run to a simple fly ball out that ended the inning, and Watson and Rizer went down in Horned Frog lore for the play and their toughness (only slightly worse for the wear):
Speaking of Watson, the senior left fielder leaves TCU with diploma in hand, and officially as the most iron man-est Horned Frog, having sewn up that title in making his 252 start in 252 opportunities - never missing a game since the first time he stepped on the field, game one of his freshman year. He would make it 253 against Arkansas later that evening, as well.
This team goes out with a lot of guys we will remember for a long time - seniors like Janczak and Watson, stars like Lodolo, transfers like Rizer and Brandon Williamson who made big impressions in their short time in Fort Worth. We may see one or two more trickle out (freshman pitcher Spencer Arrighetti apparently left the team during the regional round), but a lot of uber-talented guys should be back in purple pinstripes come fall ball. With a core group of returning veterans, as well as the expected return from injury of starter Russell Smith and potential closer Caleb Sloan, the future is once again bright in Fort Worth. We got spoiled with four straight trips to Omaha, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start thinking about starting a new streak.