Time to call myself out. It’s been an entire season, and then some, and I haven’t written a single thing about TCU baseball. In my defense — to myself, as it were — I didn’t think our readers would be interested in a summary of a Frog roster that for most intents and purposes was average-good for the majority of the season. TCU baseball, as an institution, has at times been the only major sport on campus that’s buoyed the purple and white in the national collegiate sports conversation, especially during the late years of Gary Patterson’s football tenure.
TCU baseball experienced its greatest successes under Dutch Meyer — yes, that Dutch Meyer — back in the days when coaches coached and the actual sport was simply ancillary. In the modern era, Frogball had known relevance only under Jim Schlossnagle, who managed the team from ’04 through the end of the 2021 season before absconding to College Station for perennial SEC pretender Texas A&M. During Schloss’ time in Fort Worth, they reached the College World Series five total times, including four consecutive appearances, downing what would become their manager’s new team multiple times during stroke-inducing regional matchups.
Replacing Schlossnagle, while less nationally criticized because it’s baseball and not football, was akin to replacing Patterson after the massive success he had achieved. Kirk Saarloos, a longtime assistant and pitching coach, received the honor and burden of trying to continue where his boss left off. So far, he’s been up to the task. This season, as I alluded to before, had been ho-hum in the way that baseball in general progresses with ebbs and flows. The season began with promising wins over highly ranked SEC opponents in Vanderbilt and Arkansas (more on the Hogs later) before settling into an underwhelming conference slate in which they dropped three-game series to Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech and were swept by West Virginia. TCU’s slightly above-average performance left the purple and white at fourth of nine (Iowa State plays only club baseball) with relatively low expectations heading into the conference tournament.
Two wins over Kansas State, one against Kansas, and a championship game victory over Oklahoma State earned TCU an automatic regional birth — their national rank was high enough to earn it anyway — hosted in Fayetteville by the Razorbacks (No. 3 overall), whom the Frogs hadn’t faced since their second game of the season. When regional play opened, the Frogs were on a six-game win streak and were 14-2 during the month of May. All of this is a fancy way of saying the Frogs were finding their froggiest legs at the correct time, mostly thanks to outstanding — and, in Fayetteville, almost comical — offensive performances.
Friday in “R”-Kansas featured a quick dismantling of the Arizona Wildcats as TCU racked up 12 runs on 17 hits. Saturday storms forced a postponement of the first game against the tournament hosts, and I’ll bet my investment account the Hogs wish it could have been delayed indefinitely. Sunday was an ESPN thirst trap of Frog bombs in a game that was stopped multiple times because of weather but mercifully ended with a 20-5 victory, partially because Frog second baseman Tre Richardson hit two grand slams in addition to another homer and drove in 11 runs to tie an NCAA individual playoff record. The Hogs would ascend from the losers’ bracket after beating Santa Clara a second time, only to be dismantled again during TCU’s second 12-4 victory of the weekend. The Frogs had rolled into a hostile regional and scored 44 runs in only three games.
Good fortune kept pop-flying the way of the hometown team when super-regional host Indiana State couldn’t because of their city’s previous engagement with the Special Olympics — a cause to which Frog alumni donated more than $25K after it was mentioned on a TCU baseball podcast — so the game was moved to Fort Worth. Saarloos and his boys made quick work of the Sycamores, beating them in consecutive games 4-1 and 6-4, respectively.
The Fort Worth super regional wasn’t the batting onslaught of Fayetteville, but it means that the former pitching coach has definitively left his former boss’ shadow. Schlossnagle is doing fine with the Aggies. Though they fell in the Stanford Regional this season, the former Frog manager took the Ags to Omaha last season at the expense of the Frogs while hosting their own regional and super.
That means TCU baseball is headed to its sixth College World Series (or quarterfinals). The Frogs are one of only three teams — top-ranked Wake Forest and LSU are the others — who are unbeaten in the tournament and are the last remaining Big 12 representative after Texas lost their super regional series against Stanford and Oklahoma State was shamed at their own regional by last-seeded Oral Roberts, who advanced to beat Oregon in the Eugene Super Regional and will face the Frogs on Friday in Omaha. TCU baseball’s advancement to the series is a trifecta of sorts and gives our little school in Fort Worth the distinction of the only program in the nation to qualify for the college football playoff, NCAA basketball tournament, and College World Series this year. Remember this year, Frog fans, because it probably isn’t going to get a lot better than this.