TCU's Morrison shuts down talent-packed LSU

TCU's Morrison shuts down talent-packed LSU

OMAHA -- Jim Schlossnagle has spent this year's College World Series touting right-hander Preston Morrison as the best pitcher in the history of his Texas Christian program.

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The numbers certainly back up Schlossnagle. Morrison, the Cubs' eighth-round pick in the MLB Draft, entered his start on Sunday with a 1.85 ERA over 72 career games (60 starts), multiple All-American honors and 2014 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors.

One item remained on his checklist. Morrison was winless in nine career NCAA Tournament starts, despite posting a 2.56 ERA.

He finally changed that on Sunday, tossing seven innings of one-run ball in TCU's 10-3 win over Louisiana State at TD Ameritrade Park.

"It was very exciting," Morrison said of finally getting his first postseason win, before adding, "I think the most important thing for me is just getting another step closer to our ultimate goal, which is the national championship."

Morrison doesn't feature the stuff of fellow TCU hurlers Alex Young (second round, D-backs), Riley Ferrell (third, Astros) or Mitchell Traver (28th, Cardinals). But the senior right-hander simply knows how to compete -- the "pitchability" factor that becomes an annual buzzword leading up to the Draft.

On Sunday, he did what he always does -- throwing his sinker and letting his defense work. His teammates also came up big -- center fielder Cody Jones (sixth round, Royals) threw out a runner at home with the game still scoreless in the third -- and fielders know to always be ready when Morrison's on the mound.

"We as a defense love playing behind Preston, just because there's no lull to the game," TCU third baseman Derek Odell said. "We're so confident in Preston, because he's so even-keeled; nothing affects him bad or good. ...

"I speak for all the infielders when I say there's nobody we would rather have on the mound in a big situation than Preston Morrison. He's our guy."

He was indeed on Sunday, scattering five hits, striking out five, walked none and retired the last 12 batters he faced to help TCU advance to the winner's bracket against an LSU team that featured seven Draft picks.

"He's the winningest pitcher in TCU history for a reason," said LSU shortstop Alex Bregman, the No. 2 overall pick by the Astros. "He got a lot of weak contact. He lived off the barrel toward the end of the bat."

It's that type of stuff Schlossnagle believes will help Morrison succeed at the next level.

"He's a rocking chair pitcher," Schlossnagle said. "That means I can sit back in the rocking chair and watch him go. That means he's always going to throw strikes. He's going to give you a chance. If he keeps the ball down and we play defense behind him, he's just awful tough to beat because he's not going to beat himself."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.