TCU joined OSU and Texas Tech today by remaining undefeated in the NCAA baseball tournament and earning a spot in the Sunday final of their regional. That makes the three Big 12 teams that earned tournament bids 6-0, with each team in the driver's seat of their respective regionals. Jared Janzack put together a quality start and timely hitting by the offense, or what some people like to call #LuptonMagic, carried the frogs to a late-inning come back win in front of a packed, rowdy, and loud Lupton Stadium.
TCU jumped out to an early lead in the second inning when Barzilli opened up the hitting with a one-out double to left. Watson singled in the next at-bat to give TCU runners at the corners with one out. Steinhagen, who ended up 0-4 on the night, was able to beat out the throw on what would have been an inning-ending double play to drive in the RBI and put TCU up 1-0. In the next inning, Austen Wade tripled with one out and quickly scored on a single by Cam Warner to stretch TCU's lead to 2-0.
The Frogs got the kind of pitching you need to win in the postseason from Janzack, who went 5 2/3 innings allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking just one. He had a shutout working all the way until the sixth inning, when he allowed a couple of hits around a fielder's choice to lead things off and then surrendered a three-run homer to make it 3-2 Gonzaga. Ryan Burnett came on to pitch 1 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Janzack and earned the win thanks to TCU's eighth inning heroics.
The TCU offense struggled throughout the middle innings, grounding into what seemed like an endless loop of inning-ending double plays. As the eighth inning got underway things were beginning to look a little hopeless against Gonzaga's starter Eli Morgan, who went 7 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. Just like in the third inning, Austen Wade got things going, this time with a one out single to right field. Warner and Baker both singled around a fly out by Skoug to load the bases for Elliott Barzilli with two outs. With the crowd at Lupton reaching a deafening fever pitch, Barzilli lined one into right center to put TCU back up 4-3.
Durbin Feltman came on to start the bottom of the eighth and earned the six-out save. He faced the minimum six batters, struck out two, and allowed just one hit in a shutdown performance. A month ago, it might have been true to say that this team hadn't found an identity like the teams that we have seen over the past couple of years. They may have found in the Big 12 tournament that their identity was an explosive offense, paired with timely pitching, but tonight was just good old fashioned Lupton Magic from a team that refused to give up.
A win like this goes a long way towards showing this team what they are capable of. Even if they are facing a pitcher who is throwing the game of his life. Even if they are behind with only six outs left. Even if they are away from Luption and face a situation like this again. If they play like they did tonight, and never give up, they'll always have a chance.