Ferrell Coming Up Clutch for TCU
June 16, 2014
All-America closer Riley Ferrell is that guy for the TCU baseball team.
Ferrell has a TCU single-season record 15 saves in addition to being the winning pitcher in each of the Horned Frogs' last two games, both of the epic thriller variety. He recorded the final out in both the 6-5 win over Pepperdine in the deciding game of the Super Regional as well as Sunday's 3-2 victory over Texas Tech in the opening game of the College World Series.
Those tense moments for all Horned Frogs are what Ferrell relishes.
"As a closer, the mentality has to be that you're going to want the ball win or lose," he said. "It's going to be on your shoulders every time you go out. That's how you have to take it."
Ferrell (3-1) has a minuscule 0.87 ERA and an equally impressive .138 opponent batting average against him, surrendering just 19 hits in 41 1/3 innings of work. He has struck out 66 while allowing just nine of 39 inherited runners to score.
His success comes with a set routine. One of his superstitions being something that Horned Frogs fans might recognize from TCU head football coach Gary Patterson.
"At the beginning of the game, I'm kind of loose, just hanging out and conserving energy," Ferrell said. "Towards the fifth and sixth innings, I go down to the bullpen. Around the seventh, it's pretty obvious if there's a chance for me to go in. I'll then start doing little things, like relacing my shoes, fixing my pants, shirt, jersey and everything. I'll play a little catch to make sure I'm loose enough to get hot if I need to.
"I then just try to stay in the moment and lock in to the pitches being thrown and what the situations are, so that I'm ready to go when I get in there."
When taking the hill, Ferrell cites Atlanta Braves All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel as someone he patterns himself after.
"He's a fastball, curveball guy, and I'm a fastball, slider guy," Ferrell said. "I really want to be like him. He's an amazing athlete and had a lot of success."
Ferrell gives credit to TCU pitching coach Kirk Saarloos for his work with him. He also extends his gratitude to his other coaches and teammates, who he points out are all very close, for bringing him to Fort Worth from College Station during the recruiting process.
"It was not only the coaching staff but also the players I met who really wanted me to come here," he said. "I was definitely looking to go to a place that I was really wanted. I felt that the most here.
"When I showed up on campus the first time, I was like 'wow, this place is really nice.' The second time, it was like 'dude, this could be a home away from home.' I've loved it ever since that day."
Helping him further fall in love with TCU has been the support of the fans who regularly pack Lupton Stadium, especially the atmosphere during the Fort Worth Regional and Super Regional that TCU hosted.
"It was awesome," Ferrell said. "That was the biggest experience I've had here at TCU.
"Seeing all those fans there and having them screaming and yelling pitch after pitch was just amazing. I got the chills. It was awesome."
While watching Ferrell as a natural on the mound, it might be easy to forget that he was also a power-hitting first baseman at A&M Consolidated High School. In addition to earning accolades as a pitcher, he was also a three-time all-district selection at the plate.
Even though Ferrell broke a record for exit velocity with the bat off the tee at the fan zone in Omaha earlier this week, he knows those days are behind him.
Ferrell is just hoping to continue to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line for the Horned Frogs.