Bryan Holaday: TCU’s general on the field

By Ryne Sulier

U. Texas legendary baseball coach and five-time College World Series champion Augie Garrido considers baseball war; each inning played is a battle to be won. Catcher Bryan Holaday is Texas Christian U’s general on the field and in the dugout.

TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle would agree-consider Schlossnagle a five-star general and Holaday as the next-highest ranking commander.

Holaday, a Johnny Bench Award finalist and Detroit Tigers’ draft pick, doesn’t necessarily have the offensive numbers or fielding percentage of the two other Johnny Bench Award finalists.

U. Miami’s Yasmani Grandal and Coastal Carolina’s Jose Iglesias both have more home runs, RBIs and a better fielding percentage than Holaday.

But Schlossnagle doesn’t think statistics tell the true tale of what Holaday has done for the team this season.

“He’s the straw that stirs the drink of our entire program, it’s like having a great quarterback,” Schlossnagle said. “When your very, very best player is your very, very hardest worker and your leader; that’s when you have a chance to have a great season.”

Consider Holaday a Johnnie Walker Blue on the rocks for a first-time CWS head coach who is competing with the likes of Garrido and Florida State U. all-time great Mike Martin.

A stiff drink brings confidence to the newest of players in this game; this game also brings magnanimity to the newest of players.

“Bring it,” Schlossnagle said.

“At this point in the season there’s going to be great teams and we feel like we should have been worthy of a national seed. What we went through last weekend (in Austin), there is no tougher situation. I have a lot of respect for UCLA and obviously Coach Savage…but those Longhorns are pretty good, and they were deserving to be here.”

Holaday stirred the drink, he rallied the troops if you will, after the 14-1 Game 2 drubbing Texas handed the Frogs in Austin.

Respect is the key word. Schlossnagle can go to Holaday with a problem and be confident that he will handle it; that’s because the other players respect the way Holaday plays and the passion with which he gives on every out.

Nothing is more of a testament to what Holaday has done for the Horned Frogs than Freshman Pitcher of the Year Matt Purke’s NCAA-best 15 wins as a starter.

“He’s the rock, the whole foundation,” Purke said. “We turn to him whenever we need anything. And with me this year, he’s really just brought me along, shown me the ropes, been there when things have gotten a little hectic to slow me down and then he’s been right behind me when things are rolling.

“I can trust Bryan, he’s going to block every single ball and not one will get by him. So I can concentrate on making good pitches and getting swings and misses and I know he’s going to right there to handle it.”

Against UCLA Monday, Schlossnagle will turn to Holaday to make sure his soldiers are ready; Holaday will be sure to stir the drink.

“I think right now we’ve really come together as a team and we’re more confident than we’ve ever been; we’re just looking forward to the next game,” said Holaday after an 8-1 win over Florida State in Game 1 Saturday.

Johnny Walker Blue on the rocks-that’s what TCU and Schlossnagle need against UCLA Monday; or maybe just Bryan Holaday.

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