Normally, spending an entire day parked on my butt in front of a computer screen is reserved for Monday through Friday. But, beautiful as it was outside yesterday, that's how I spent my Sunday- first watching Stefan Crichton pitch a complete game in ending Texas A&M's season on their home field, then Brandon Finnegan's gutty performance pitching into the 8th in defeating Ole Miss to stave off elimination for the third consecutive game.
So now this College Station Regional comes down to one final game between the Frogs and the Rebels, tonight at 6:35pm. It'll be all hands on deck, pitching wise, for both teams as TCU plays it's fifth game in four days and Ole Miss their fourth. If the Frogs win, they'll be headed to Los Angeles to take on their old nemesis, UCLA, in the Super Regionals. If they lose, they'll have nine months to stew on the defeat before their 2013 season opener against...Ole Miss.
Win or lose, though, you've got to be incredibly proud of this team already. It's hard enough to fight your way out of the loser's bracket to get to a winner-take-all final game of a regional. When you add in the searing heat & humidity of this weekend, the fact that this team is mostly freshmen & sophomores and that they lost their best hitter and a major team leader two weeks ago to a knee injury, it makes what the Frogs have accomplished this weekend pretty remarkable. A third trip to the Supers in four years or not, the future looks bright for the TCU baseball program.
That's not to say that I don't hope like hell that they win tonight. In fact, I think they will! When you look back at the recent history of the NCAA Tournament, it's littered with stories of teams that came together late in the season and found success. Without the ability to lean on their best hitter, Jason Coats, the rest of the guys in this batting order have really come around. Freshmen Kevin Cron and Derek Odell have started to cement their status as future stars, but from the top to the bottom of this order, guys are stepping up to deliver when it counts.
Oh, and the pitching. If the Frogs end up winning tonight, I might ignore the ostentatious numbers put up at the plate this weekend and split it between Crichton and Finnegan. Their ability to go deep into yesterday's ballgames (Crichton working all 9 himself in the afternoon game against A&M) have given Schlossnagle a few options for this evening. Every member of the pitching staff, save those two, are available to pitch tonight. My best guess would be that Trey Teakell would start, but I think you'll see both Preston Morrison and Andrew Mitchell at some point. Relievers Kaleb Merck and Kevin Allen should be fresh, and Justin Scharf could come in to get a few outs, too. Then you've got guys like Tyler Duffie, Nick Frey, Travis Evans and even Jerrick Suiter that ought to be available if needed.
So even though I'll be staring at a computer at my desk all day at the office, I can't wait to get home tonight to sit at my desk there and watch this team try to win this regional. Go Frogs!