June 10, 2010

By Matt Rybaltowski
Special to NCAA.com

As Texas coach Augie Garrido and Jim Schlossnagle, his counterpart at TCU, prepared for an intrastate battle in this weekend's Super Regionals, both were interrupted by the Major League Baseball draft.

During the draft, Garrido described his players as being giddy and flighty as the Longhorns' (49-11) celebrated the selection of pitcher Chance Ruffin with the 48th overall selection on Monday night.

In total, seven players from the NCAA Division I baseball tournament's No. 2-seeded team were chosen during the first two days of the draft, while the Horned Frogs had six selected. This week has been busier than usual for Schlossnagle, since the draft typically takes place during the College World Series and his team has never been beyond the Super Regionals.

"At this time of year they are usually fighting for team success, not individual success," Schlossnagle said. "For the players who got drafted higher than expected it's hard to derail their excitement and the disappointment for the players drafted lower than expected."

By mid-week with the draft in the rear-view mirror, both teams had taken a business-like approach to practice and shifted their focus on their best-of-three series which begins Friday at 2 p.m. in Austin. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

TCU (49-11) hopes to avenge a defeat in last year's Super Regionals when Texas captured a decisive victory in Game 3 on the shoulders of freshman pitcher Taylor Jungmann.

Jungmann, who allowed just two hits over six innings in the 5-2 victory, might even be better this season. Changing speeds with great frequency, the sophomore baffled Rice hitters in a 4-1 victory that eliminated the Owls on Sunday. After Jungmann's fastball topped out at 94 mph and his slider cleared the plate 10 mph slower, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon called him the best pitcher in the country.

"I don't think I've changed anything with my mechanics - I have a little bit more behind me with my legs," said Jungmann, who boasts a 7-3 record, a 2.10 ERA and 120 strikeouts. "I worked (in the weight room) over the summer and it really helped."

TCU also improved in the off-season with an arduous training regimen. Horned Frogs players arrived in the weight room as early as 7 a.m. three times a week for lifting and sprinting sessions. When each workout ended, they could barely stand.

"We worked our butts off," TCU senior infielder Matt Curry said. "It was very intense, everyone left soaking wet."
Schlossnagle's team has set school records in home runs with 90, doubles with 170 and wins with 49. Curry, who shed 40 pounds in the off-season, leads the team with 17 homers and is second in RBIs with 59. Catcher Bryan Holaday, who has been nominated for the Johnny Bench award, is hitting .347 and has started all of the team's 60 games behind the plate. Every hitter in TCU's starting lineup is hitting over .300 on the season.

Texas counters with a pitching staff that leads Division I with a 2.44 ERA, more than a half run lower than UCLA, the next closest team. Besides Jungmann, Cole Green and Brandon Workman have combined for a 23-2 record and eight complete games. Green will likely start Game 1.

On offense, the Longhorns are led by senior Russell Moldenhauer who has a .341 batting average and a .599 slugging percentage. TCU will look to keep the Texas' leadoff hitter from getting on base, as the Longhorns played small ball and set an NCAA record with seven sacrifices in Game 1 of last year's Super Regionals.

"This (the Super Regional) has been a roadblock in Texas for a long time," Curry said. "It's going to be a dogfight."