CWS GM10: TCU’s Teakell The Magnificent
OMAHA — If Preston Morrison is the best pitcher in TCU history, redshirt senior righthander Trey Teakell might just be the most valuable pitcher Jim Schlossnagle has had in his lengthy tenure with the Horned Frogs.
As has been the case much along the way to the College World Series, the Frogs knew there’d be a point in Thursday’s elimination game against LSU where they’d likely need Teakell, an impressively-composed veteran, to come out of the pen and record some important outs. In reality, the Frogs needed Teakell to do much more than that, and he delivered yet again in an impressive 8-4 win over LSU, which possessed one of the nation’s elite offensive lineups.
[pull_quote_right]“Well, Trey [Teakell] as usual, was remarkable,” TCU catcher Evan Skoug said. “I mean, we ask so much of Trey. And for him to come in and give us several good innings and keep us in the ballgame was amazing. He’s been doing it all year.”[/pull_quote_right]
“Well, Trey [Teakell] as usual, was remarkable,” TCU catcher Evan Skoug said. “I mean, we ask so much of Trey. And for him to come in and give us several good innings and keep us in the ballgame was amazing. He’s been doing it all year.
“He’s really been a big part of my development as well as the rest of the freshmen,” he continued. “He’s just Mr. Do-It-All. Without Trey we’d be a completely different ballclub.”
And without Trey, there’s a good chance the Frogs are sitting at home now, and perhaps not even in a position where they’re one of the last four college baseball teams standing, and just two wins over Vanderbilt away from playing for the program’s first national title.
Teakell’s road to the limelight began a few weeks ago in the NCAA Regional, again, against one of the nation’s better offenses in NC State. Teakell, in a similar situation, was brought out out of the bullpen when the Wolfpack jumped on TCU starting pitcher Alex Young for four runs in four innings. Though we all know how this game ended in incredibly wild fashion, Teakell provided the stability needed to at least keep the Frogs within striking distance, striking out two in three shutout innings. The next weekend, the lanky 6-foot-5, 170-pounder faced another physical offense in Texas A&M. And the results were very much the same. He came out of the bullpen in the super regional series opener to throw four shutout innings, while he struck out four in 1.1 innings in the series finale and CWS clincher against the Aggies.
Those performances in particular put Teakell — a ninth-round pick by the Detroit Tigers — on the national map for good.
“He matches up well with anybody because he commands the baseball with three pitches. He’s equally effective against right and lefthanded hitters, and he’s a really good athlete on the mound,” Schlossnagle said. “Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff he still has that angle to the baseball and he’s got some deception in his delivery. And he’s the most valuable pitcher I’ve ever had in this program.
“There’s certainly been high draft picks and guys who have had great seasons,” he continued. “But in terms of a guy who can literally pitch in any role, he’s the best. I wanted to get him out there [tonight] as quick as I could.”
Teakell’s role against the Tigers was very similar to his roles against NC State and A&M. He needed to provide stability to keep the Frogs in the driver’s seat after TCU righthander Mitchell Traver allowed three runs on four hits in 3.1 innings. The Frogs and Tigers were tied 3-3, but LSU’s potent offense had some momentum in the fourth inning after Traver walked seven-hole hitter Chris Chinea with one out. The Frogs immediately turned to the steady Teakell, and he proceeded to get out of the inning with a pair of quiet groundouts.
“He threw a pretty good downhill fastball in the low-90s, and you really had to get on top of it, and we just missed a few of them,” LSU shortstop Alex Bregman said. “He has this little cutter, slider, thing that was pretty hard, but it was that fastball that he used to get ahead and he had good feel for his slider.
“We’ve seen it before,” he continued. “But he just pitched pretty well.”
While TCU’s opportunistic offense broke things open in the fifth inning with three runs, one coming via a Skoug RBI double and a Dane Steinhagen two-RBI single, Teakell did his thing on the mound. He controlled the LSU offense as well as any pitcher has this season, and retired all 13 hitters he faced — all with just one strikeout and a throng of groundouts.
“I really focused on the outer half [of the plate]. They were a really offensive team like A&M, and my main focus was the outer half and I was just seeing if I could work that area with my fastball,” Teakell said. “I was able to get some rollovers and some weak swings. I typically like to pitch in the lower half of the zone, but I was focusing on the outside tonight because I know how they like to get their swings off.”
Teakell’s performance against the Tigers adds to his lengthy legacy with the Horned Frogs. On one hand, he really helped Schlossnagle’s club save some pitching for what could end up being two games against the Commodores. And overall, it’s further validation for what has been an outstanding career. Teakell has saved his team so many times this postseason, but most don’t realize the righty tallied a 2.34 ERA in 60-plus innings last season and experienced even more success before then.
But nothing compares to what he’s done the past couple of weeks, and this season, as his fastball has added some velocity and his slider has gotten much firmer. Being out of the limelight behind guys like Preston Morrison, Mitchell Traver, Alex Young, Tyler Alexander and Riley Ferrell, you’d think, wouldn’t be easy to endure. Teakell, though, is different. He’s waited patiently throughout the season, realizing that his time to shine eventually would come, and that he’d accept whatever role the Frogs need him to fill.
TCU needed Teakell again on Thursday, and the MVP delivered. Again.