Editor's Note: This story was updated June 20 for the latest news.
Proudly displayed on the padding on the left-field wall at Lupton Stadium, beginning at the foul line and stretching toward center field, are logos that represent TCU Baseball's five trips to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Omaha is where the national champion is crowned each June, and winning the title is every team's goal. But the trip to far Eastern Nebraska is hard to come by, as only eight college teams will go.
The Frogs hadn’t been one of the final eight teams since 2017, and looking at the logos each day was a stark reminder of past seasons that fell short.
This season, the Frogs ended their Omaha drought, thanks to consecutive victories over Indiana State in the Fort Worth Super Regional. The Frogs departed for the College Worls Series in style with a sendoff from fans and the Fort Worth Fire Department. With wins over Virginia and Oral Roberts, the Horned Frogs made their way to the third round where they head to face Florida twice to make it to the championship series.
“Every kid grows up dreaming about going to the College World Series,” regional Game 2 starter Sam Stoutenborough said. “To say that we're about to do that is something that hasn't settled in yet. It probably won't settle in until we step foot on the field. It’s surreal.”
The Game 2 crowd marked the largest on-campus crowd ever for a college game played in Texas.
“Apparently we’re just a small school in Fort Worth,” Stoutenborough said. “So we take that with a grain of salt.”
A small school with a mighty presence.
“We are incredibly proud of our Horned Frog baseball team, “ said Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. “It is so exciting to once again see TCU on the national stage at the College World Series. We love the chance to showcase our top-notch athletic programs, our student experience and the stellar academics we have to match.”
The Road to Omaha
The College World Series is a double-elimination tournament featuring eight teams playing in two brackets. TCU landed in Bracket 2 with Florida, Virginia and Oral Roberts. The winner of Bracket 2 will face the Bracket 1 winner in the best-of-3 championship series.
The tournament can test even the deepest pitching staffs, and teams have little margin for error as they play for the national championship.
TCU (42-22) arrives as one of the hottest teams in the tournament, having won 11 straight games and 19 of their past 21 dating to May 1. The two losses were each by one run.
Along the way, TCU swept four games in the Big 12 Tournament at Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, and three more in the Fayetteville Regional hosted by No. 3 seed Arkansas.
The Frogs took two straight from No. 13 Indiana State, which was unable to host the Super Regional because of a scheduling conflict with the Special Olympics of Indiana Summer Games on campus.
TCU and its fans raised more than $50,000 for the Special Olympics of Indiana, including $1 from every concessions transactions during the Super Regional, as a token of goodwill for the Sycamores’ misfortune.
The change in venue proved to be good fortune for TCU, who beat the Sycamores 4-1 and 6-4. Indiana State cooled off the hot Frogs’ bats but couldn’t generate much offense in a raucous environment that saw 8,812 fans for Game 1 and 8,994 for the clincher.
Crowds will swell at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, where TCU first played in 2010 and again from 2014-2017. Now-head coach Kirk Saarloos was an assistant coach during that four-year run, and he said the feeling Saturday was the same now that he's in charge as it was then.
Winning the national title in Omaha is every team’s goal. The Frogs have given themselves that chance.
“It’s so awesome to win a Super Regional and go to the College World Series,” said Saarloos, who played in two College World Series for Cal State Fullerton. “The lead-up to getting there, watching the guys’ reactions when they are there, and just seeing all the time that they put in together as a group, there’s really no better week or two weeks than Omaha.”
Read TCU Magazine’s Q&A with Saarloos ahead of the Super Regional.