There was something really spectacular about hearing that Frog Horn sound in the bottom of the first, when Jeremie Fagnan crossed home plate for the first run of the game. That sound, coupled with the brazen T-C-U chant coming from the seats, the grass, the concourse, and the outfield (where I was sitting, surrounded by purple), and of course the WOO, made for a long, loud day for however many Aggies actually showed up to the game (my best guess is somewhere around 1200). When the Frogs added another run on a Derek Odell single, it seemed the game was destined to break the Frogs way.
The Aggies would cut the TCU lead in half in the top of the second, scoring a run against Tyler Alexander on three base hits Alexander got a double play to help limit the damage, but didn't have his best stuff on the mound; he would leave after four innings, having surrendered three earned runs on nine hits, with the Frogs nursing a 5-4 lead. We will get back to the pitching in a moment - and the amazing afternoon of Trey Teakell - but let's not ignore the offense quite yet. The Frogs, who were bemoaned for their struggles at the plate, the men left on base (they would strand seven on Saturday despite the heroics at the plate), and the lack of big bats, put on an absolute show on Saturday. Clicking on all cylinders, every starter in the lineup had at least one hit, every man in the lineup had either an RBI or scored a run, six of nine starters had multi-hit games, and the Frogs mashed two doubles and two triples against an Aggie pitching staff that couldn't find an answer for the reinvigorated bats of TCU. The Frogs haven't been bad on O, but they haven't put up near the numbers of a TAMU offense that has been crushing the ball all season - and while the Aggie offense was slowed last weekend and again today, the TCU bats seemed to come alive with that epic Monday night comeback.
After scoring two in the bottom half of the first, and seeing TAMU put one on to open the second, TCU would strike back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the frame - the Frogs would score in six of the eight innings they batted, and only two of them would be single run innings. The second was not one of those, as a Dane Steinhagen single put the first runner on, a Cody Jones hot shot moved him to third, and Fagnan would double off the wall to empty the bags and vault the Frogs back out to a 4-1 lead. At that point, four runs seemed to be enough; the Frogs had all the momentum (sorry, Coach Avent!), and Alexander had looked solid. But the Aggies made it this far for a reason, and would fight back with a two out, three run rally in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 5-4. Three hits and a passed ball would spell the end of Alexander's day, and though, as previously stated, he was dominant, he was good enough. While he scattered the nine hits, he was hurt by the error, and the fact that the Aggies seemed to see the ball well on the day, especially in the fourth - where they hit the ball hard. And that's what the Aggies do - they swing a lot. And Alexander throws a lot of strikes. Like he said Saturday, after the near miss on a perfect game - (and this is somewhat paraphrased) "I pitch to contact, so they are going to hit it. I just have to hope they hit it to people". Today, they found gaps, as a good offense is prone to do, but fortunately, the TCU offense was having the same sort of luck - just more of it.
The Frogs would go quietly in the bottom of the frame, one of only two innings they wouldn't score. And in that moment, it got... well... just a little quiet at the park. Despite holding the lead, it felt like the mood had shifted - the Ags were excited and they were loud. For a moment, the WOO sounded a lot like WhOOp. But, just when it looked like things were about to take a turn, a 6'5" hero jogged to the mound to save the day. I swear, in the outfield ivy at least, you could almost feel the electricity when he stepped on the mound. At that moment, we all knew that the game was over for TAMU. And how right we were. Teakell came in and dominated - he showed zero rust after pitching in only a single game last weekend - as he retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced for four innings of one hit, glorious baseball. This game could have gone so many different directions before Schloss made the call to the mound for the senior righty, but once he began the windup on his first offering, it seemed clear there was only one way it would go from that point on. The only negative to his four innings of near flawless work? It might very well be the last time we see the big guy pitch in his home park - but hopefully not the last we see of him in purple.
Meanwhile, the TCU bats felt like giving Teak a little insurance; they would pick up a run in the fifth as Odell led off with a single, stole second, and was driven in by Keaton Jones - who had assisted on all three outs in the top of the frame on three nice plays. In the sixth, after another shutout frame by Trey, TCU exploded from the plate - they would put up a five spot in the inning to absolutely shut the door on any hope the Ags had. Senior Garrett Crain opened things up with a single to start the frame, Steinhagen would move him over to third with a single of his own, and Cody Jones would do CoJo things, beating out an infielder grounder for a single and scoring Crain. Connor Wanhanen, who was last seen struggling against NC State but looked much better at the plate Saturday, walked to load the bases. Freshman Evan Skoug and senior Derek Odell would rip consecutive singles, and after the two hits and a wild pitch, it was 10-4 Frogs, and the Aggies were headed to the exits. Nolan Brown would cap the scoring in the inning with a long sac fly, and the Frogs would add two in the eight (so close to #TCU15) as Brown would triple and Keaton would single and score as well. I would be remiss not to take a moment and celebrate another senior who had an incredible day - the third baseman Odell. DO, who had an up and down regular season both at the plate and on the field, was a star in the Regionals, and brought more of the same to the opening game of the Supers. A 4-5 day at the plate, two runs scored and two batted in, don't even tell the whole story. It's clear DO isn't ready to stop playing, and not only has he elevated his play, but has continued to be a leader in the dugout, picking guys up and getting things started in one way or another.
Brian Trieglaff came out in the ninth for TCU - many Frogs fans were calling for Riley Ferrell to get the call as an opportunity to get his confidence back - but Schloss wanted to save his guy for a bigger spot. All told, TCU would use three arms, throwing a total of 137 pitches, giving up 11 hits, three earned runs, and striking out four - against zero walks. A&M would use four guys for 176 pitches, give up 18 hits and 12 earned runs, striking out seven and walking two. TCU had one error, the Aggies two. For A&M, lefty Matt Kent will be called upon to save the season. Kent, who is 9-1 on the season with a 2.99 ERA, has started 18 games on the season - Andrew Vinson would likely have been the game two starter, but pitched 2.1 innings in relief of Saturday starter Grayson Long, who lasted only three frames. Kent has thrown 90.1 innings on the year, across 18 appearances, and has allowed 96 hits. He has only walked 10 batters and has 78 strikeouts. The Frogs will turn to the man that has been their best pitcher on the season - and who Schloss says in the best starter in TCU history - to try and send them to Omaha, senior Preston Morrison. Morrison was outstanding a week ago in a game the Frogs would ultimately lose, but will try and repeat the eight inning, 10 strikeout, four hit/two earned run gem who threw his last time out. Morrison is 11-2 on the year with a 2.60 ERA, and has 81 strikeouts against 19 walks. While all Frogs want to win, I think we would all especially love to see P Mo be the guy that takes us to the promised land.
Fittingly, Schloss said he showed a highlight video of Pete Rose prior to the game - YouTube clips of "Charlie Hustle" running, diving, and getting dirty - challenging his guys "if we go down, let's go down like this". The Frogs would not go down on this day, but know full well they will see an angry, motivated - and flat out desperate - A&M team tomorrow. TCU won the game Saturday, but the war remains to be decided.