Before this tournament started, Jim Schlossnagle said that he believed this team's best baseball was ahead of them. Well, by God, they're playing some baseball now. After trouncing the Bears Thursday night to the tune of 12-5, TCU exploded for nine runs in the eighth inning against OSU to beat the Cowboys 13-5 in their second game of the Big 12 tournament.
It's tough to impress just how much this game turned around, but it was looking like OSU's game all the way up until there was one out in the top of the eighth. OSU's lead off batter got on base in the first inning when he threw his hands up at first base, slapping Wanhanen's glove and knocking it away from Barzilli's throw in a play that would have resulted in an out. After that, Mitchell Traver committed an error on a bunt that allowed two runners on with no outs to start the game for the Cowboys. OSU went on to score four runs in that inning, and things were looking a lot like Stillwater up in Oklahoma City.
Traver settled down and pitched really well over the next three innings, throwing a shutout until he left the mound after the end of the fourth. In the top of the fourth, TCU scored four runs to tie up the game on five straight hits from Elliott Barzilli, Ryan Merrill, Dane Steinhagen, Connor Wanhanen and Austen Wade. This was the lone rough patch in an incredible 117 pitch performance from Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Thomas Hatch. Hatch went 6 2/3 innings giving up four runs on nine hits while striking out nine with zero walks. He controlled the game for OSU for the majority of the night, and it wasn't until he left the mound that the Cowboys' hold on the game started to slip away.
With TCU trailing 4-5, Luken Baker led off the eighth inning for TCU with a single, and the Frogs proceeded to bat around on the way to chalking up nine runs and putting the game out of reach for the Cowboys. On the back-end of that, Evan Skoug came to the plate 0-4 on the night and launched a no-doubter over the fence in right. He even included a Bautista-esque bat flip, although when he was asked about it in the post-game he made a point to say that he just got excited and that he didn't mean any disrespect to OSU or their pitching staff. It must have got Baker excited too though, because he followed it up by going deep to left. It was the second game in a row that Skoug and Baker have gone back-to-back. Or, call it back-to-back back-to-backs, if you will.
The win means that TCU gets the day off today, and OSU will have to play an elimination game tonight at 7:00 against Texas. The winner of that game will have to beat TCU twice on Saturday to make it to Sunday's championship game. OSU should have plenty of pitching left to make a run, thanks to Hatch's outstanding performance last night. But it's going to be a tall task to beat this TCU team twice in a row the way they're playing. Especially considering that they get an extra day to rest their starters, and more importantly, for their bullpen. So far, this tournament has been all we could have asked for. Sign me up for another round.