Last night was a fairly disapointing, if not completely expectedly so, sports night for me. I mean honestly, you had to know that the Blazers would put up a fight and take Game 3 at the Rose Garden and I think we all knew all along that Johnathan Gray would pick UT*. That's why I was focusing more on the Frogs' game against UNLV and the second superb pitching showdown between Kyle Winkler and Rebels' ace Tanner Peters, who was apparently an extra in Deadwood.
If TCU is going to make another run in the postseason, it's going to be without Kaleb Merck and now possibly without Matt Purke. They're going to need some younger guys step up, but it starts at the top of the staff with Winkler, who's been nothing but outstanding this year.
Once the Frogs get to the conference tournament and the NCAA Regionals (and hopefully further), they are going to need someone that can eat up innings and outpitch other elite pitchers, which is exactly what Winkler did last night with a complete game with the equally-dominant Peters on the mound for UNLV. His performance not only gives the Frogs the series-opening victory that eluded them last time out against the Rebels- it also means the entire rest of the depleted TCU pitching staff is fresh with 4 games in the next 5 days...a scenario that will be a distinct possibility again in the postseason.
Erik Miller, who has personified this team's inconsistency so far this season, is slated to start tonight in Game 2 against UNLV. With Purke now gone, Miller is the pitcher this team needs to forget his early-season struggles the most and hurl some quality innings down the stretch. Hopefully tonight will be a turning point for him.
*-in all seriousness, though, I congratulate Gray on his choice and wish him nothing but the best in his college career. UT is a good school and Austin is a kick-ass city, so I'm sure he'll have a great time. It woulda been nice for the Frogs to get him, but I think we'll be alright.