Welcome back into the batter's box with Three Hits and Bunt, our twice-monthly look at pitches that sink and bats that tink.
Before we step in, here's what reader Jackson Thomas from San Jose emailed to me last week when the news broke that Cal would save its baseball program:
"Mr. McGee, when they told us that they were refusing to save our beloved Baseball Bears, I often opened your book The Road To Omaha to read the passage about the inaugural College World Series and the great Jackie Jensen and would cry my 64-year old eyes out. Now I am crying again, tears of joy because the tradition anchored in that first CWS win will now live on."
Thank you, Mr. Thomas. And I don't think you'll find many people that disagree with your sentiments. The whole baseball world would've felt empty had Evans Diamond been empty.
To the hits!
Single: TCU, Part II
When we last visited with the TCU Horned Frogs, it was February 22 and the team was 3-1, coming off an attendance record for a three-game homestand. On this very site, Will Kimmey accurately set the table for TCU's graduation from gritty College World Series upstart to the realm of raised expectations.
In the weeks following Kimmey's story, those expectations were put to the test. The Frogs dropped three of their next four, losing two of three to Cal State Fullerton and suffering one defeat at the hands of (gulp) Texas Baptist. At one point they were a lackluster 13-9. Pitching ace Matt Purke started the year with a blister and hasn't seemed to regain his footing. A highly-touted freshman class had shown flashes of brilliance, but lacked consistency. By late March that had all added up to fuel internet whispers that the team simply wasn't going to be able to recapture the spark that resulted in its first-ever trip to Omaha last June.
So by the time I arrived on campus last Sunday, April 10, for the rubber match of a big conference series with New Mexico, the TCU squad figured to be on group suicide watch, huddled in the clubhouse either meeting with a grief counselor or using a Ouija board to summon up the ghost of 1927 All-American first baseman Bear Wolf for guidance.
Not a chance.