Rain kept all four teams off TCU’s Lupton Stadium field Friday and forced a four-hour delay for Saturday’s first game between Dallas Baptist and Virginia. That meant TCU, with a 9:45 start Saturday night, was virtually assured of playing past midnight, which hasn’t always been a bad thing. Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com
Rain kept all four teams off TCU’s Lupton Stadium field Friday and forced a four-hour delay for Saturday’s first game between Dallas Baptist and Virginia. That meant TCU, with a 9:45 start Saturday night, was virtually assured of playing past midnight, which hasn’t always been a bad thing. Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Gil LeBreton

Rain, wait taking toll on TCU and NCAA regional

June 03, 2017 10:33 PM

As he sat there Friday, watching the rain wash out the first day of his NCAA baseball regional, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle had two choices.

One, he could be patient and take comfort that the other three teams were stuck in the same slippery corner that the Horned Frogs were.

Or he could grab a hammer and get to work – 300 hundred cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits being the specifications, as I recall.

“It’s frustrating,” Schlossnagle said before Saturday’s eventual rain-delayed first pitch. “You feel for the players. You feel for the fans. You feel for everyone.”

Rain and postseason baseball go hand in hand in these parts. You don’t even need to be in college to know that.

High school district rivals Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage were scheduled to begin their best-of-three playoff series Friday at Dallas Baptist, but rain forced them 70 miles west to Brock, and finally to Grand Prairie on Saturday – the nearest dry ballpark available.

“We can’t control it,” Schlossnagle lamented, as he waited for Saturday’s first game to finally begin. “I hated it for the fans, and I really hated it for the Virginia and DBU [Dallas Baptist University] players. They were out here at 11 o’clock.

“But that’s part of being a baseball player, I guess.”

Rain happens, he means. Patiences – and pitching plans – get tested.

Prominent among the problems is the four-team NCAA regional setup. If a single game is postponed, it gets pushed into the next day, and pitching disparities tend to ensue. A No. 1 seed could end up having to play two games on the second day.

The decision to play or not play – as well as to postpone a first pitch from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. – is in the hands of the NCAA, which has two representatives at the TCU-hosted regional.

Mark Ditsworth, one of the NCAA officials, described Friday’s wait as “long and miserable.”

We have to consider the safety of the kids and the equity of the game.

NCAA official Mark Ditsworth

If TCU is blessed to host a regional again, Schlossnagle might want to rethink his choice of game times on the first day. Playing the first game may hurt the home crowd, but it could avert his team having to face a 9:45 p.m. start, as the Frogs did Saturday.

That came about because the water-logged outfield at Lupton Stadium didn’t allow the Virginia-DBU opener to start until 6:05 p.m., even though both teams were dressed, warmed and ready to go two hours earlier.

“They wanted to go earlier, but we felt we had to give the field more time to drain,” said the NCAA’s Ditsworth. “Taking the additional hour-and-a-half was huge, because the field is a lot better than it was.

“We have to consider the safety of the kids and the equity of the game.”

Ditsworth was right. From behind home plate, the playing field may have appeared to be normal, but viewed from down the left-field line the outfield was a wet mess.

The extra 90 minutes allowed the drainage system beneath the field to catch up to the overflow.

Sunday’s forecast calls for much more navigable conditions, with rain possibilities expected to be no more than 30 percent.

As 10 p.m. neared Saturday, the Frogs and visiting Central Connecticut State finally were able to begin. As Noah said, play ball.

Another post-midnight TCU postseason finish appeared inevitable. The Frogs’ 2014 win over Sam Houston State lasted 22 innings and ended at 2:30 a.m. The 16-inning classic against Texas A&M in 2015 concluded at 1 a.m.

The Frogs, in other words, are undefeated after midnight. Even when wet.

Gil LeBreton: @gilebreton

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.