Andy Cannizaro heard Jim Schlossnagle’s plan of resurrecting the TCU baseball program well before it started.
“He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do in 2001,” Cannizaro said Tuesday.
LSU (53-10) and TCU (49-13) meet at 2 p.m. Sunday in the first game of their College World Series stints — a clash between two programs with one, large connection.
Schlossnagle, the Horned Frogs’ 12th-year coach, recruited Cannizaro, the Tigers hitting coach, while he was an assistant at Tulane in the 1990s. The two remain good friends.
Cannizaro used the word “mentor” to describe the coach and referred to him by his nickname: “Schloss.”
“Talk to him all of the time,” Cannizaro said. “When we were at Tulane together, we’d talk all of the time about him becoming a head coach. And he always talked, even back in 2001, about how TCU was one of the biggest gold mines in the country.”
The Horned Frogs beat Texas A&M 5-4 in 16 innings on Monday — a six-hour game that didn’t end until 1 a.m. Tuesday — to reach the CWS. LSU coach Paul Mainieri fell asleep in the 14th inning while watching the A&M-TCU battle. He woke up at 5:30 a.m. to learned the Frogs’ pulled out the win.
The Big 12 regular-season champion, TCU has a team ERA of 2.38 and a team batting average of .289. The Frogs have five bullpen pitchers with ERAs less than three. Their four most-used starters have ERAs of 1.60, 2.31, 2.55 and 2.86.
One of TCU’s top relievers is Baton Rouge native and former Live Oak High grad Preston Guillory. He hasn’t give up a run in 25 innings this season, making 19 appearances.
Cannizaro and his hitters have a daunting task.
Schlossnagle, who received his master’s degree at UNO, recruited and signed Cannizaro in 1998. The coach spent eight years as an assistant with the Green Wave, ending with the 2001 team that beat LSU in a super regional at Zephyr Field.
Scholassnagle left Tulane for the head coaching job at UNLV before joining TCU in 2004. Cannizaro wasn’t surprised he made the move to Fort Worth, Texas, and isn’t surprised by his success. Scholassnagle led TCU to a regional in all 12 seasons, including three College World Series appearances (2010, 2014, 2015).
“We used to sit there in the dugout (at Tulane) all of the time and talk about it,” Cannizaro said. “If he could ever be the coach at TCU, he swore that he could get that place going and win really big there.”
No pitching commitment
Mainieri isn’t revealing his starting pitching rotation for the College World Series, he said Tuesday, but the coach said the Tigers can win a national title with just two starting pitchers.
LSU has struggled to find a consistent and solid third starter to go with freshman ace Alex Lange (11-0, 1.89) and sophomore lefty Jared Poché (9-1, 2.91), but that might not matter.
“If you’re having success, you can win the national championship if Lange and Poché each win two games,” Mainieri said. “That would be four of your five wins that you need. Someone is going to have to win one more.”
That someone: “Jack Wholestaff,” Manieri said Tuesday, referring to his approach of using five to seven relievers.
Mainieri approaches the CWS as he would a four-team NCAA regional. The Tigers are in a four-team pod with Vanderbilt and Cal State Fullerton. Those two are meeting in the pod’s other first-round game Sunday night.
The winners play Tuesday night in what Mainieri compares to a Saturday “all the marbles” game of a regional.
“The reality is, the first two games of the tournament have equal importance,” he said. “If you think about a regional, you have to win those first two games to have the best shot.”
Second baseman Kramer Robertson is not healthy enough to make the 27-man travel roster for the CWS, Mainieri said.
Robertson hasn’t fully recovered from an elbow injury he suffered April 23 during infield drills before a game against Texas A&M. The Tigers’ postseason roster will remain the same as it has the past month. It excludes pitchers Ryan May, Jake Latz, Brady Domangue and Kyle Bouman; Robertson and Greg Deichmann.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.