By the midpoint of the regular season, Rice sophomore righthander Matt Langwell had done little to distinguish himself from any of the Owls’ low-profile pitchers.
Langwell had started and relieved, producing results that were neither exceptional nor egregious. He was middling personified until he began displaying a mastery of the strike zone, at which point Rice coach Wayne Graham granted him additional responsibility.
Friday, Langwell showed how he earned Graham’s trust. With Prairie View A&M again aiming to play the role of postseason spoiler, Langwell worked seven shutout innings in a 5-0 victory at the Houston Regional at Reckling Park.
TCU 3 Baylor 2
TCU closer Sam Demel admitted he had little or nothing left.
The junior right-hander and the Horned Frogs were clinging to a one-run lead over Baylor in the opening game of the NCAA baseball regional at Rice’s Reckling Park, with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth.
But Demel, pitching his third inning, struck out Baylor’s Ben Booker on a 3-and-2 changeup to preserve a 3-2 victory and send the Bears into the losers bracket.
“Going into the at-bat I was pretty much of out of gas,” said Demel, who had walked the previous batter on four pitches. “When I’m out of gas, my best pitch is the changeup. We went at him with all changeups.”
TCU (47-12) will face Rice, the regional’s No. 1 seed, at 6 p.m. today. Baylor (34-26) will play Prairie View A&M at 2 p.m..
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle called on Demel (7-1) after starter Jake Arrieta, who pitched marvelously, walked Beamer Weems to open the seventh with TCU holding on to a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t want to have to use Sam so much,” Schlossnagle said of Demel, who threw 54 pitches. “I fired my bullet early when we had the lead. Demel showed what kind of guts he’s had all year.”
Baylor tied the game in the seventh, when Weems scored on a groundout by Dustin Dickerson.
TCU, the No. 2 seed, grabbed the lead back when catcher Andrew Walker opened the bottom of the seventh with a homer off Baylor starter Jeff Mandel (7-8).
One out later Grapevine’s Bryan Kervin homered to right to give TCU a 3-1 lead.
Weems led off the ninth inning with a homer to slice TCU’s lead to one run. Czimskey walked and, after a fly out, pinch-hitter Matt Sodolak singled. Demel got Shaver Hansen to fly out, then walked Paul Miles to load the bases.
“I tried not to be nervous,” Kervin said. “But it was pretty intense.”
Baylor coach Steve Smith said Booker swung at ball four.
“That was a good at-bat,” Smith said. Demel “was going to win or lose it with his best pitch.”