June 16, 2010
College World Series Schedule
Frog Pile: Winkler Guides TCU
By Sean Ryan
the NCAA college baseball tournament pairings were announced,
there surely were some in Fort Worth, Texas, who were thinking,
TCU, in the midst of its finest season, was
selected to host a Regional for the second straight year. Should
the Horned Frogs win, they would be shipped roughly 200 miles
down Interstate 35 to Austin to meet Texas for the second
straight year in the Super Regionals.
But after the Horned Frogs learned their fate,
sophomore right-hander Kyle Winkler told pitching coach Randy
Mazey that if there was any way he could have it, the Frogs’
journey to Omaha would include a return trip to face the
“To be honest, it hurt pretty bad last year,”
Winkler started the first game of last year’s
Super Regionals against the Longhorns and lost for the first
time all season. TCU took the second game but fell one game
short of reaching the College World Series with a 5-2 loss to
Winkler got his wish for a rematch.
Winkler got the ball in the deciding game Sunday
and didn’t allow a run in pitching into the eighth inning. And
for the first time in school history, TCU is headed to the
College World Series.
“No, it hasn’t at all,” Winkler said when asked
Tuesday if reaching Omaha had sunk in. “It feels pretty
unreal…It’s hard to believe that we’re going.”
To get there, the Frogs dispatched of Lamar,
Arizona and Baylor in the Fort Worth Regional.
Then, in the opener against Texas, freshman lefty
sensation Matt Purke (14-0) struck out 11 and allowed three hits
and one run in 7.2 innings, and Tyler Lockwood closed in a 3-1
win. The Longhorns stormed back and routed the Frogs 14-1
setting up a winner-take-all game for the second straight year.
(left) spent the previous two days studying the Longhorns,
learning that when his fellow pitchers got hit hardest, they
were pitching from behind. He said he felt confident going into
the game and simply wanted to give the Frogs as many quality
innings as he could.
But he knew there was little margin for error.
“With their pitching staff, you’re not going to
get a lot of runs off of them,” Winkler said of the Longhorns,
who entered with the nation’s best pitching staff and allowed
eight runs in the three games of the series.
Winkler ran into trouble several times early in
the game, but each time was able to wriggle out of it. First
baseman Matt Curry made a diving play down the line in the
first. Winkler stranded runners at third in three of the first
“The big key for me was to try to get ahead of
hitters, but I didn’t really do that,” he said. “When they were
looking for fastballs, I was able to throw sliders for strikes.”
Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, center
fielder Aaron Schultz gave Winkler and the Frogs some insurance
with a two-run homer.
“Absolutely huge,” Winkler said. “It just allowed
me to make some pitches in the middle of the plate and let them
get themselves out instead of me really having to pitch to get
Winkler, 12-1 this year and 19-2 in his career,
came out after 7.2 innings, five hits, three walks, six
strikeouts and no runs – thanks in part to a splendid Schultz
catch in center in the eighth.
Lockwood entered and ran into a bit of trouble,
allowing a run on an error.
“The guys on the bench were as nervous as
everybody on the field,” Winkler said.
Lockwood got a harmless grounder to second to
pick up his second save of the series and send TCU into a Frog
Pile behind second base and on top of the Longhorns logo.
Some thought TCU disrespected Texas, which
traditionally doesn’t dogpile until the College World Series, by
celebrating on its logo in center field.
was just spontaneous,” Winkler said, adding that the team went
towards Schultz, one of the heroes. “I was just trying to tackle
the first person I could.”
That person ended up being roommate and fellow sophomore Taylor
Featherston, TCU’s shortstop who scored twice in the deciding
Afterwards, Winkler had about 30 text messages
and a handful of voice mails waiting on his cell phone. He got
another 20 texts on the way home to Fort Worth. And he’s been
taking plenty of phone calls from friends and family members.
Slowly it’s starting to sink in: TCU is headed to
“I’ve never been there,” Winkler said. “I always
told myself I would go some day. I was hoping I’d go as a
(photos courtesy of TCU Media