TCU's first game in Omaha amounted to a battle of purples, as the Frogs faced the #2 overall seed in the LSU Tigers. The game opened as a pitcher's duel, as Jared Poche' of LSU and TCU's Preston Morrison traded strikeouts to open things up. The Frogs, who could barely make contact their first time through the lineup, needed a little help to dent the scoreboard, and would get it in a big way in the fourth.
LSU's first scoring chance came in the bottom of the third, as they touched P Mo up for a couple hits. With two outs and a runner on third, Cody Jones played a hard hit ball to center on a hop and made a brilliant throw to Evan Skoug (who was blocking the plate perfectly) for the third out of the inning and to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. CoJo would be the first batter of the fourth, and open things up with a chopper to Poche' on the mound - that should have been an easy out - but the LSU pitcher airmailed one over first, and Jones made it all the way to third on the error. Jeremy Fagnan was next up, and he hit it right back to Poche' again - and again, Poche' made a bad throw. TCU, with runners on first and third and nobody out, would turn to freshman Connor Wanhanen for the lead - and the DH would come through, ripping a single through the right side to score the first run of the game. Evan Skoug would come up with runners on first and second and no outs, and after appearing to get hit on the hand by a pitch (it was ruled foul), grounded into a double play. With two outs, Dane Steinhagen came through with a hit of his own, and the Frogs took a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the inning.
LSU would strike back with a run of their own, as they touched up Morrison for a couple hits in the bottom of the fourth. But the Frogs would get that back and more in the top of the fifth, as they used some timely hitting and another costly error to strike for four runs in the frame. A Keaton Jones walk, followed by a Nolan Brown single, put runners on first and second for Garrett Crain who would walk on four pitches. That would bring up CoJo... the man, the myth, the legend... who would hit one hard to third base. A ball that should have been a double play bounced off the glove, then got kicked, and Cody used some serious hustle to beat the throw to first. One run would score, and after Jeremie Fagnan was hit by a pitch, Wanhanen would plate two with another single. The Frog's inning would end after one of the strangest double plays you'll see (at third base, after a run down went really wrong), but TCU would hold a 6-1 lead and be in control heading to the second half of the game. The Frogs would add four more, to take a 10-1 lead in to the bottom of the eighth.
While the Frog offense and the LSU defense would be the narrative, the real story was Preston Morrison. Morrison, who allowed one run after the Frogs broke through for the first two scores of the game, would shut down the powerful Tiger bats through seven innings of one run, five hit ball. P Mo struck out five and walked none on 89 pitches, before giving way to Brian Howard, who would give up a no-doubter homerun, walk a batter, allow an infield hit and an RBI single through the right side before inducing a chopper back to the mound to end the inning with the Frogs holding a 10-3 lead.
The Frogs would threaten in the top of the ninth, as Wanhanen would open the frame with a single. Skoug would walk after an eleven pitch at bat, but a Steinhagen foul pop out and an Odell double play would send TCU to the ninth with a 10-3 lead. Schloss would turn to his recently maligned All-American for three outs in the bottom of the ninth, calling upon Riley Ferrell to finish the game. Ferrell would airmail his first offering and fall behind 2-1 before fighting back to strike out his first batter on a nasty inside breaking ball. Riley would look much better against the second batter, striking him out with ease using some hot hot heat (97mph on multiple fastballs). Ferrell would start the final batter Sciambia with a 98 mph heater, get him to foul on pitch number two, and strike him out with some serious cheese the next pitch. For Frog fans, seeing Riley strike out the side in the ninth was as cathartic as the win.
While many will say the Frogs were gifted the victory off of some poor Tiger defense, TCU made plays when it needed to most. The timely hitting of the Frog bats, combined with the unbelievable effort of Preston Morrison, put pressure on LSU and forced them to crumble.
TCU's 10-3 victory puts them in the winner's bracket for Tuesday, where they will face the winner of Vanderbilt and Cal State Fullerton at 7pm. LSU will play the loser of that game at 2pm on the same day. The Frogs will likely look to Alex Young or Tyler Alexander to start game two, as they hope to take a short route to the championship series. One step closer to the destination! Go Frogs!