By Kelly Walker

“First Class.”

“Fantastic.”

“Pro operation all the way around.”

“One of the best for sure.”

After their 3rd and final game of the 2022 Frisco Classic, these are the words the head coaches used to describe the weekend.


Frisco College Baseball Classic’s mantra “Best Outside of Omaha” is more than a hashtag. It’s an intentional high standard designed for a certain level of accountability that allows the tournament to live up to the hype.


Creators of the Frisco Classic wanted the game experience for the fans, student-athletes, and coaches to be first class. Peak Sports MGMT and Peak Events President and Founder, Ryan Holloway, aims for good baseball to watch, a good regional feel with fan bases showing up donning their team colors, and the players getting to play on a beautiful field and experiencing top-notch treatment.


We took the pulse of how we’re living up to the hype during the March 2022 tournament weekend.


Iowa Director of Operations & Player Development, Nick Ungs, summed it up nicely regarding the Frisco Classic chatter and why it’s important for the players. “Being part of college baseball, you know of it and you always follow it,” says Ungs. He explains that the atmosphere and the hospitality that goes along with the Frisco Classic weekend brings it all to another level and helps put the kids in the right state of mind. “Big schools and Power 5 names coming in and playing in front of a great crowd and environment gets your kids acclimated to something like that so that when the regionals, super regionals and even being in the world series come around, they’ve had that moment already.”


THE WELCOMING EXPERIENCE


From the hotels to the staff at the ballpark and beyond, coaches tell us everyone was not only accommodating but really worked hard to take good care of the players.


The in-game experience was vivid for Washington State Pitcher Grant Taylor. “Pitching in this environment is amazing,” Taylor says. “You come out, walk on the mound in the first inning, and with all these fans in the stands, you are pumped. Your adrenaline is going, your legs are shaking and you get settled in with the first batter then really get to take it all in and soaking in every moment.”


Time together off the field is a valuable part of the experience. Texas A&M Catcher Troy Claunch mentioned the importance of learning about each and every pitcher on and off the field, so getting as much time together over the weekend is helpful. He also felt the love of the home crowd feel. “It’s awesome to have all the fans here supporting us and backing us up,” says Claunch.


Coaches get in on the positive experience of the Frisco Classic, too, especially when there’s a moment to savor like when Washington State Head Coach Brian Green got his 200th win. The team presented him with a bat after the game, and Green says that the win, in this environment, against a good team like Texas A&M is a moment he’ll never forget.


Iowa Head Coach Rick Heller talked about the welcoming crowd so far from home as they were greeted with a nice showing of Hawkeye fans in Frisco. “We have a pretty big contingency in the Dallas area, and it’s nice to have them come out and support us all three days,” Heller says.


THE FIELD & BALLPARK


Many of the College facilities are petite ballparks with turf fields. Riders Field is a 12,000-capacity ballpark with 26 luxury suites, a world-famous lazy river, bullpens inside the seating bowl, and a grass field best described as “classic”. The reverence for the ballpark isn’t lost on these collegiate players.


Washington State infielder, Kyle Russell, commented on the ballpark, “The experience is insane; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s a great environment to play in. It’s breathtaking being here. Where we are used to playing, it’s smaller and not as many people, so this lives up to the hype.”


You can’t get a better playing field and place to live out your dreams than in Frisco. The experience of playing in a beautiful AA ballpark is incredible for college players because it’s part of what they dream about. While the facilities in college are legit, it’s different playing in a pro stadium where many of the greats have played and so many major league players have stepped on the field and played on their way up to the big leagues.


Wichita State third baseman Foster Gifford told us why he looked forward to the Frisco Classic. “Excited about the atmosphere. It’s a good set up, good field, good competition. I’ve never seen the bullpens being in the stands, so that’s pretty cool,” Gifford says. He also looks forward to playing against guys he played in the summer and facing programs with strong reputations of being good teams.


Some players prefer the grass surface of Riders Field because of the feel and malleable dirt. Wichita State Closer Connor Holden says he likes dirt mounds over turf mounds because you can dig into and take your time getting it just right. “Grass is part of the integrity of the game; it’s how it’s supposed to be played. I feel more at home when there’s grass and dirt under my feet.”


THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE


For the players, facing a strong field at the Frisco Classic is a learning experience. You see better opponents, different pitches, different pickoff moves, a different speed of the game. With each element, you can take something from it, learn and improve. Teams have to learn from the quick turnaround from night games to a following day game and facing teams outside of their typical conference schedule.


“Anytime we’re in this environment it’s better preparation for what we have ahead of us in our conference,” says Texas A&M Head Coach, Jim Schlossnagle.


Coaches see the added pressure of the Frisco Classic as a positive – the sooner they learn how to handle the pressure, the better. The challenge teaches you how to adjust and prepare, especially developing teams with a young roster. Wichita State Head Coach, Eric Wedge, says, “We want to play the best teams we can. That’s how you mature that much quicker. It’s how you answer questions that much quicker and make adjustments quicker to be a better ballplayer.”


Coach Wedge called the tournament a class operation and a welcome challenge for their team. “Our players are excited to be in Texas. We recruit strong down in Texas, so there’s a lot of energy on the bench,” he says. “Anytime you get close to home and get a chance to play a storied program, it’s a great challenge for us.”


Seeing the Frisco Classic on the schedule caught the eye of Wichita State’s Holden, a Graduate transfer. “It’s a recruiting tool. When I got here to Wichita State, a big thing for me was the schedule. Playing at the Frisco Classic is one of the highlights of our year. The week preparing for it and even throughout the whole year, this has been a big circle on our calendar,” explains Holden.


Stretching your limits, facing tougher competition, bonding time off the field – it helps build baseball clubs. As Holden says, “We want the competition. We’re not scared of anyone. We want to see how we size up against the cream of the crop.”


The Frisco Classic delivers first-rate treatment for players and coaches, a pro facility, boss matchups, and an exceptional fan experience to uphold that proud #BestOutsideOfOmaha hype.


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By George Stieren

FRISCO, Texas – The Wichita State Shockers (5-7) got hot as the temperatures dropped Sunday evening at Riders Field, defeating the Texas A&M Aggies (7-4) by one run in the finale of the Frisco Classic.

The Shockers erased a four-run deficit, scoring six runs in their final three at bats to pull out the win. Wichita State went and unblemished 3-0 over the weekend. Sunday’s WSU starting lineup boasted six Lone Star state products.

“It was good for everybody, but some of the Texas guys we have on the roster – I think it was good for them to play here close to home and play some of the teams they probably grew up watching,” said Wichita State Head Coach Eric Wedge. None of the contest’s central figures were bigger than the winning squad’s first baseman Sigrist, from Plano (Texas).

Shockers’ reliever Connor Holden (1-0) tossed 1 1/3 innings in relief to finish the game and pick up the win. Robert Hogan suffered the loss for the Aggies. Texas A&M initiated the scoring in the top half of the first inning when cleanup hitter Troy Claunch roped a double to left field bringing in Jack Moss from first. Moss reached earlier in the inning on a fielder’s choice.

The Aggies tacked on two more in the second inning when Taylor Smith led off with a walk before Ryan Targac followed up with a two-run home run to left field,6 extending the lead to 3-0.

Texas A&M pushed a fourth run across in the fifth inning to make it 4-0, thanks in part to the baserunning prowess of Kole Kaler. He walked on five pitches, stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch, all before Jack Moss picked him up with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field.

The Shockers then went on the comeback trail in the sixth inning, getting on the board twice. The first run came by way of Couper Cornblum’s RBI double the right-center gap, plating Chuck Ingram, who led off with a walk and moved to third on Payton Tolle’s double. Tolle came around to make it 4-2 on a Ross Cadena single to the right side.

Wichita State overtook Texas A&M an inning later. Xavier Casserilla walked, and then came home when Ingram doubled down the right field line to close the gap to 4-3. Payton Tolle then ripped the first pitch of the next at bat over the lazy river in right field for a two-run homer that traveled 419 feet, putting the Shockers up 5-4. The blast gives Tolle five RBIs in his last seven at bats. Ingram went 2-for-2 on the night with two runs scored to go with two walks and the seventh-inning RBI.

The Aggies answered in the top of the eighth inning as pinch hitter Dylan Rock singled home Ryan Tourgac with the game-tying fifth run. Targac scored from second after walking and advancing to second on a wild pitch.

Wichita State fought back in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead. Cornblum was hit by a Robert Hogan offering, and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and then third on yet another wild pitch. Sigrist – who starred at Plano West High School -- hit a liner to right field, forcing Brett Minnich to lay out to snag the drive. While Minnich’s catch was stellar, he could do nothing to stop Cornblum from tagging up and scoring the go-ahead run.

The loss dropped Texas A&M to 1-2 in Frisco. The game, played in front of 4,189 fans, lasted three hours, 17 minutes.


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  • Peak Events

By George Stieren



FRISCO, Texas – Iowa overcame a shaky start to defeat Washington State on Sunday afternoon in the Frisco Classic at Riders Field.

After his team fell behind 3-0 after two innings, winning pitcher Ty Langenberg (2-0) supplied 5 2/3 innings of solid relief work, setting the stage for the Iowa offense to climb back in it, and eventually hang on for the win. The victory provided the Big 10 Conference representative with its only triumph this weekend in Frisco.

“I am extremely proud of our team,” said Iowa Head Coach Rick Heller. “It would have been easy to lay down the way things were going.”

Heller praised Langenberg’s effort saying, “It couldn’t have come at a better time; it showed a lot of guts.”

Hawkeyes’ third-place hitter Peyton Williams provided the most impressive highlight with a 422-foot home run to the grass berm beyond the centerfield fence in the bottom of the seventh inning. The bomb gave the Hawkeyes a lead they would not surrender.

The Cougars opened the scoring in the first half inning when designated hitter Bryce Mathews singled home leadoff hitter Kyle Russell with the game’s first tally. Russell began the contest with a walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch by Iowa starter Marcus Morgan.

Wild pitches bedeviled Morgan again a batter later when Mathews advanced to second on an errant toss home in advance of an RBI single by Justin Van De Brake to right field, scoring Mathews and making it 2-0. Washington State’s Morgan bounced back to induce a double play and a groundout to avoid further damage.

Van De Brake racked up three hits Sunday and seven total in his team’s three games in the Frisco Classic.

A lack of control haunted Morgan again the next inning when he uncorked another wild pitch, allowing Kodie Kolden to race home from third, upping the Cougars lead to 3-0. Kolden opened the second inning with a single.

Iowa remained quiet offensively until the sixth inning when it also took advantage of wildness by opposing pitchers. The Hawkeyes started the bottom of the sixth with two walks, the first to Sam Peterson at the hands of starter Cole McMillan. Reliever Cam Liss came on and issued a free pass to Williams, setting up designated hitter Keaton Anthony with a prime RBI opportunity. Anthony delivered with a double to left field, bringing in Petersen and making it a 3-1 game.

Williams came around to score on a Liss wild pitch. Liss was removed in favor of Kolby Kmetco, who promptly hit Kyle Huckstorf. Brendan Sher then doubled down the right field line, scoring Mulflur and Anthony, giving the Hawks their first lead at 4-3.

Washington State snapped back in the top of the seventh to tie the game at four apiece, thanks to ninth place hitter Hylan Hall’s home run that landed on the grass berm in left field after traveling 418 feet. The round tripper came off pitcher Tyler Hoeft.

Williams’ 7th-inning homer gave Iowa the lead 5-4. Later that same frame, Anthony singled to right field before Mulflur coaxed a walk to chase Hoeft, who was tagged with the loss. Hoeft was relieved by Connor Barison. The Hawks sent up pinch hitter Anthony Mangano, who sliced a single up the middle to bring Anthony around and make the score 6-4.

Van De Brake doubled to lead off the Cougars’ half of the eighth inning, his third hit of the afternoon and seventh of the tournament. He moved to third base on a wild pitch by Langenberg. Van De Brake came home to make it 6-5 on a sacrifice fly by Collin Montez.

The Cougars mounted a ninth-inning rally after Casey Day took the mound to start the inning. Jack Smith drew a four-pitch walk and was replaced by pinch runner Elijah Hainline. Will Cresswell bunted and was thrown out by catcher Brett McCleary at first base. Hainline was gunned down trying to advance to third base on a perfect throw from first to third.

The next hitter, Hall walked, and was left stranded as Day notched his first save of 2022.

The game took three hours and 17 minutes to complete.

Washington State Head Coach Brian Green and his team appreciate the Frisco Classic despite finishing with a 1-2 record at Riders Field. “It was an absolute honor to be here. It’s going to make us a better program moving into Pac-12 play next weekend.


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