TCU's Schlossnagle sees Arkansas as national title threat

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Monday, June 3, 2019
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle hits Thursday, May 30, 2019, with a fungo during practice and walk-through ahead of the NCAA Baseball Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle hits Thursday, May 30, 2019, with a fungo during practice and walk-through ahead of the NCAA Baseball Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

— TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle has taken five teams to the College World Series this decade, so he knows what an Omaha-worthy team looks like.

In Arkansas (44-17), Schlossnagle sees not only a team that could make it to Omaha, but one that could win it all after coming up just short last season.

“They look like a national champion,” Schlossnagle said of the Razorbacks following TCU's 6-0 loss to Arkansas on Sunday.

Schlossnagle's Horned Frogs played Arkansas and Vanderbilt this season. He said he could see either team winning a national title later this month.

“Vanderbilt is awesome," Schlossnagle said. "They have great, great balance on offense, but just from what I have seen, Arkansas throws a lot more strikes.

“We’ll see. There is certainly room for both of them in Omaha. I have not seen all the other teams, but there is no question that this is an Omaha team. They just have to go play like it."

Arkansas' win Sunday set up a super regional matchup against SEC West foe Ole Miss.

"I am sure Coach (Dave) Van Horn is a Hall of Fame coach and he will have them ready to go," Schlossnagle said, "and playing here with this fan base and the energy in the ballpark, it will be a great weekend next weekend for sure.

“The best team and the team that played the best won this tournament and we will wish them the best of luck next week."

Schlossnagle said he was most impressed with Arkansas' pitching this weekend. The Razorbacks allowed just six runs in two victories over TCU and a regional-opening victory over Central Connecticut.

“They smother you with strikes; at least they did in the games I saw," Schlossnagle said. "Guys do multiple things - right, left, guys pitching off their breaking balls and they all have power arms.

“Like I said yesterday, they are a team that played or a national title last year and certainly set up to do the same thing.”

Arkansas had 10 hits on Sunday night, including a two-run double by Dominic Fletcher in the first inning and a two-run home run by Matt Goodheart in the fifth. Both hits and five runs came against TCU starter Jared Janczak.

“They just kind of caught me before I got my rhythm and that happens a lot, especially for myself a lot this year,” Janczak said. “But I think I held myself well and kept us in the ballgame.”

Razorbacks Casey Opitz, Trevor Ezell, Jack Kenley, Heston Kjerstad, Isaiah Campbell, Connor Noland and Matt Cronin were named to the all-regional team.

“From a lineup standpoint, there is a lot of athleticism and a lot of good baseball players...,” Schlossnagle said. “They are fun to watch where you are in the stands, but not that fun when you are in the other dugout.

“They are just baseball players. You have guys that compete throughout the entire at-bat. They may look bad on one swing and then get right back in the at-bat.

“They are going to be tough to beat, especially if Campbell and the other starters give them a shot because when they get to that bullpen with a lead, it is awfully tough.”

Arkansas finished off the regional by taking out Janczak, one of the most decorated Horned Frog hurlers ever.

“(Janczak) made some great pitches, but when he threw a bad one, they made him pay for it,” Schlossnagle said. “How many runs were with two outs? Four of the runs at least with two outs. So timely hitting. That is what championship teams do. We’ve had those moments, we have had them this year, just enough of them.

“I thought Jared got off to a good start, punch the first hitter out on three pitches and then they got some good swings on him. He did a great job of keeping us in the ballgame, but we just couldn’t ever scratch."

Janczak, a 2017 All-American, finished his TCU career with a 17-12 record. He was 0-4 this season, the second straight in which he has battled injuries.

“He is as good a pitcher as have ever been at TCU,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s redshirted, he’s been told he is not good enough, led us to the World Series multiple times, pitched as a reliever, pitched as a starter, been hurt, been drafted twice and could have gone on to professional baseball, but has said no. He has given this program way more than we have given him. I am grateful and it has been an honor to coach him for five years."

Arkansas freshman left-handed starter Patrick Wicklander (6-2) held TCU scoreless over five innings. Cody Scroggins and Jacob Kostyshock combined to pitch the final four innings.

"Wicklander was great and everybody that came in after him was outstanding as well," Schlossnagle said.

TCU left fielder Jason Watson praised the effort of Wicklander.

“He came right after us, threw a lot of strikes,” Watson said. “He was sticking off-speed whenever he wanted to and hitting both sides of the plate so really anything he wanted to.

“His fastball was good and he was just working that slider in on us.”

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