SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Playing baseball for TCU means playing when the lights are brightest.While those opportunities typically come later in the season, Brandon Williamson got a chance to pitch on a big stage in his TCU debut and, after overcoming some initial nervousness, he rose to the occasion on the
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Playing baseball for TCU means playing when the lights are brightest.
While those opportunities typically come later in the season, Brandon Williamson got a chance to pitch on a big stage in his TCU debut and, after overcoming some initial nervousness, he rose to the occasion on the final day of the inaugural MLB4 Tournament.
Williamson -- who opted to go to TCU rather than signing with the Brewers after being picked in the 36th round of the 2018 MLB Draft -- led the Horned Frogs to a 10-2 win over No. 1 Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
"It was unbelievable," Williamson said of the atmosphere at the MLB4 Tournament. "Honestly, I had some nerves before the game, came in and I realized that is what I wanted. This is baseball, it's no different than any other game I've pitched before."
The Commodores' offense had totaled 29 runs on 31 hits over the first two games, but Williamson was able to keep them in check. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, but held Vanderbilt to one run on four hits and threw 45 of his 77 pitches for strikes.
"I thought he did a really nice job for his first college start," TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "He didn't get a fall practice, so that's only the fifth time he's been on a game mound since May. And May, that was in a junior college game in the Midwest, and now he's starting in this setting against the No. 1 team in the country."
Williamson checked in at No. 90 on MLB Pipeline's 2018 list of the Top 200 Draft prospects after he struck out 104, a school record, in 66 innings for North Iowa Area CC. He showed the same ability to rack up strikeouts early against Vanderbilt.
The lefty struck out two in the first and then fanned four in a row over the second and third innings before finishing with seven strikeouts in his brief outing.
TCU's offense came to life over the final two games of the MLB4 Tournament.
The Horned Frogs were shut out in a loss to Fullerton on Friday and then didn't score through the first two innings against Virginia on Saturday. However, the Horned Frogs' offense ultimately found its rhythm and tallied 19 runs in 14 innings in wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt.
"When you come out and get shut out like that right away, it said a lot about our team, whether we were going to roll over or we were going to pick it up, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and that's what we did," Williamson said.
TCU -- a program that has five College World Series appearances (second in NCAA) since 2010 and 231 wins (fourth in the nation) over the past five years -- missed the postseason for just the second time in 15 seasons in 2018. It began the 2019 campaign with something to prove and this weekend's 2-1 start will certainly go a long way toward that goal.
"You can take a lot of confidence from a weekend like this when you have success," Schlossnagle said. "The beauty of playing this kind of competition in this setting is you expose your team, anything you don't do well, it's going to get exposed. You learn more about your team than you would playing against a lighter schedule."
The schedule eases up a bit from here as TCU heads home for four games against Abilene Christian and Grand Canyon.
"Kids today, they know who the good teams are, and they want to play the good teams and they want to play in the great venues," Schlossngale said. "That's part of the reason why they chose to come to TCU."
Cal State Fullerton rallies to MLB4 victory
Cal State Fullerton rallied to score three runs in the ninth, overcoming a two-run deficit to top Virginia, 6-5, in Sunday's MLB4 finale.
Defensive miscues put Fullerton in an early hole, as it gave up a trio of unearned runs. But after being held in check for the majority of the game, the Titans' offense came alive in the ninth.
There was no big blast that broke the game open, but rather a series of plays that led to the comeback, as six Titans reached base in the ninth and all nine batters came to the plate in the inning.
Jake Pavletich drew a walk to open the frame, and Jason Brandow -- who put Fullerton on the board with a two-run double in the fifth -- followed with his second double of the game. A hit batter loaded the bases, and after Jackson Lyon's RBI single brought home the first run of the ninth, Hank LaForte tied the game with a sacrifice fly.
Two batters later, Virginia, which finished the weekend 0-3, had a chance to keep the game tied with two outs and the bases loaded, but Daniel Cope hit a grounder to short and put the Titans ahead via the RBI infield single.
Noah Murdock pitched well for Virginia, striking out five and giving up three runs on five hits in six innings.
William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.