Eyes on Omaha


Photography: TCU Athletics

By Greg Salvatore


The last week has been a whirlwind for Sam Demel at the professional level – being traded from Oakland for Conor Jackson, joining his new club, making his big league debut at Fenway Park – so you could excuse him if he were a little cut off from the outside world.


He isn’t though… at least as far as his alma mater is concerned.


Demel, who played college ball at TCU, is one of only two D-backs whose teams are currently competing in the College World Series. Stephen Drew’s Florida State Seminoles are also alive after beating rival Florida in an elimination game Monday afternoon.


Demel’s Horned Frogs won their first game against those Seminoles and it appears that they’ll be a tough out in this tournament.


“Those guys are looking good,” Demel said. “We’ll see how they do tonight (against UCLA).”


The Horned Frogs made it into the CWS by beating Texas in the Super Regional, winning on Friday and Sunday in Austin. Texas was the No. 2 team in the country behind only Arizona State at the time, so the win was not only a big one for TCU’s program, but one that sent shockwaves throughout college baseball, and certainly sets up TCU as a team that can take on anyone.


“(TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle) said, ‘Once you beat Texas, it’s kind of like everybody else is — well, not easy — but you know you can do it,'” Demel said. “That’s the main thing for the confidence.”


TCU is where they are in large part because they have the pitcher who looks like the best in the tournament, left-hander Matt Purke. Purke was the No. 14 pick in the 2009 draft by the Texas Rangers, but chose to attend TCU and re-enter the draft later.


After Purke put on a show in the Austin Super Regional, he turned around and dominated Florida State on Saturday allowing one run (unearned) on four hits over seven innings.


“He’s got some power stuff, man,” Demel said. “He’s got really good stuff and he’s really blossomed, from his first outing to his last outing. I saw him a couple times early in the season and the stuff he had in his last outing, and the way he controlled it on both sides of the plate was impressive. He’s really maturing.”


Demel won’t be able to see much if any of the TCU/UCLA game live tonight (first pitch is at 6 p.m. Arizona time, an hour before the D-backs take on the Yankees at Chase Field), but you can bet he’ll be watching it later.


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