The Chanticleers did TCU a big favor knocking Florida into the loser's bracket on Sunday. That more than proved they were a good team and a threat to win, but the Frogs were on a mission tonight. They took the field to do what no other TCU team before them could; win their second game of the College World Series and remain in the winner's bracket.
But that's just a means to an end. Really, they're here to win it all.
Not only are they doing it for themselves, and for the great TCU players who came before them, they are doing it for Micah Ahern, their teammate and resident superhero. Whatever it is that has gotten them this far, to the Frogs, the CWS field is looking as juicy and delicious as a Jim Schlossnagle apple.
Texas Tech eliminated No. 1 seed Florida in the early game Tuesday, making the path to the finals for the winner between the Frogs and the Chanticleers that much easier. Micah Ahern was able to travel up to Omaha today to watch his team's big game and the Frogs did not disappoint. After a quick end to the first, Luken Baker opened up the second with a solo shot to right field to give TCU a 1-0 lead.
It was Baker's second go-ahead home run in as many CWS games. On the day he was 3-3 with the home run and two runs scored. Brian Howard, the leader of this pitching staff, backed up Baker's home run with 5 2/3 innings of six hit, one run baseball. He struck out seven and walked three. It wasn't until the sixth inning that he actually gave up the run, but he gave his team enough time to build a cushion.
Coastal Carolina's pitcher, Alex Cunningham, was extremely efficient through the first four innings. He allowed just four hits and looked invincible, aside from giving up the homer to a guy who might actually be invincible. But the Frogs started out the fifith inning by loading the bases with no outs, and after a pop up by Landestoy, Cunningham walked Wade to put TCU up 2-0. From that point on, the spell was broken, and TCU never looked back. The Frogs scored again to extend their lead to 3-0 on a fielder's choice put in play by Warner before the fifth ended.
The Frogs opened up the sixth inning by loading the bases again with no outs again. This time Steinhagen grounded into a double play, but TCU still got a run out of it to make it 4-0. In the bottom of the sixth, when Howard left with a 4-1 lead, Ryan Burnett took the mound in relief. He went 3 1/3 innings and didn't give up a single hit, striking out two as he earned the win for Howard and the save for himself.
TCU would end up scoring a couple more runs in the ninth inning to finish with a final score of 6-1. After Merrill singled with one out, Michael Landestoy tripled to the gap in right-center. It was the moment that broke the Chanticleer's back and it's only fitting that Landestoy would deliver it. After starting the season on the bench and earning playing time by being clutch throughout the year, he is every bit the kind of player that this program has been built on. He's all heart. Just for good measure, Landestoy scored the sixth run himself when Coastal Carolina committed an error trying to throw Warner out at first.
Now sitting in the catbird seat of their bracket, the Frogs will get to rest and, hopefully, spend some time with Micah before they resume play on Friday night. Who they will play depends on who wins the Thursday night game between Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina. TCU needs just one more win to advance to the CWS Finals. The Red Raiders and the Chanticleers will need to win three in a row, knocking off the Frogs twice if they hope to advance out of the loser's bracket.