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TCU Pulls Off Epic, 15 Inning Comeback Win Over Texas A&M in the Shriners Classic

Relentless. That is all.

Ryan Merrill was the unlikely hero of TCU’s 15th inning, comeback win.
Melissa Triebwasser

Note: due to the late nature of this game, we are starting our recap with the drama. Because we know that’s what you want anyway.

It was yet another classic contest between the two Texas baseball powers that don’t seem to know any other way to play each other than in full cardiac mode. Though Saturday night’s game at the Shriners Classic wasn’t for much more than bragging rights, it was clearly one that neither team was willing to lose - though only one team came out of top in the end.

After dominating the early stages of the game, A&M saw the Frogs continue to chip away at their lead in slow nibbles. But the Aggies pushed their lead back to five in the top of the ninth, with a two out, two-run scoring double down the right field line.

Things looked bleak as the Frogs came up in the bottom of the ninth, but then Lupton Magic made it’s way to Minute Made. Starting with Skoug, TCU worked six consecutive walks to open the inning (during which A&M used two pitchers), with a wild pitch mixed in. That brought the score to 10-7.

Ryan Merrill struck out for the first out of the inning, but Austin Ingraham clutched up for his first Division 1 hit, sending the ball into left, driving home another run. Austen Wade struck out looking on a full count, which left the bases loaded and two outs for Elliott Barzilli. He ripped a pitch to third base, which Janca couldn’t handle. Two runs came in for the Frogs, tying the game at 10.

Sean Wymer came on for TCU in the 10th, and struck out the side, giving TCU pitchers 19 strikeouts on the night. He struck out two more in the 11th, and three more in the 12th. He finished his night with a masterful 5.0 innings of work, striking out nine of the 15 batters he faced and not allowing a single hit.

Then, with the clock approaching 1am, Elliott Barzilli led off the bottom of the 12th with a double to the gap in right center. Skoug was intentionally walked, so the Aggies could get to Michael Landestoy. Landestoy had subbed in for Wanhanen at first base, after Wanhanen pinch ran for Baker in the 10th. He laid down a beautiful bunt to the third baseman, and the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag to load the bases with no outs.

TCU couldn’t bring home the winning run though, as two good defensive plays sandwiched a Brown strikeout, sending things to the 13th. Both the Aggies and Frogs would struggle to put anything together in the 13th and 14th, and despite a couple of loud outs on both sides, the game moved on to the 15th inning and past the five and a half hour mark. Closer Durbin Feltman would take the mound, wearing #15 in the 15th, with hopes of an electric performance to wake the Frogs up. After retiring the first two batters he faced, Feltman lost Jorge Gutierrez on a walk, but got a groundout to end the inning, rejuvenating the TCU dugout.

In the bottom of the fifteenth, Josh Watson looped one on the line for a single - making a big turn and almost getting caught in no man’s land. But he slid in safely under the tag,allowing Brown to come up with no outs. Brown’s bounced one to second, allowing the Ags to get the lead runner, but he’s a hard guy to double up, and made it to first with no issues. With one out and one on, the Aggies went to the bullpen and Jason Ruffcorn, to face Cam Warner. Brown took second on a 3-0 count, and Warner walked on Ruffcorn’s next offering, a pitch in the dirt. That would end his night, as the Aggies would call on Lee May Gonzalez to face Ryan Merrill. Gonzalez had been near-perfect in 4.0 innings of work to this point, allowing only a single hit and no runs so far this season. But it was Ryan Merrill’s night. The Omaha native made some magic, sending one to the gap in center, giving enough room for the speedy Brown to round them all and cross home plate for the winning run. For the Frogs and Aggies, it was another epic, classic of a game, one that will go down alongside some of the other great ones played between these two teams. But for TCU, it’s just another win - and another way to find a win - in a season who’s biggest prize comes in June.

The Aggies got up early, putting five on Nick Lodolo and TCU in the top of the first. Lodolo, who only lasted two thirds of an inning, didn’t have any command working for him, giving up five hits and a walk in his extremely short outing.

The Frogs got one run back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a two-out RBI single from Luken Baker, which scored Evan Skoug.

Zeros went up for both teams through the next three innings. Jake Eissler, who came in for Lodolo, struck out eight batters through the first eleven he faced, but he ran into trouble in the top of the 5th. He gave up a leadoff triple, followed by a single, which gave Texas A&M a 6-1 lead. Two outs later, a single deep in the hole at shortstop would bring home another Aggie run, making the score 7-1.

The Frogs got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth, both unearned, thanks to a throwing error by A&M’s third baseman. Baker led the inning off with a walk, before Watson hit a hard grounder to third base. The error allowed Baker to advance to third, while Watson advanced to second. A Cam Warner infield single pushed the first run across, making it 7-2. Two batters later, a passed ball on ball four to Austin Ingraham (pinch hitting for Evan Williams) allowed Watson to come home to score, making it 7-3.

A&M extended their lead in the 7th, pushing another run across to move ahead 8-3. However, TCU would crawl to within three thanks to a massive error by A&M left fielder Walker Pennington. With two on and two out, Nolan Brown hit a single to left field. The ball went under Pennington’s glove, rolling all the way to the wall, and two runs scored. Brown would be stranded at third, but the Frogs had pulled to within 8-5. That’s when all hell broke loose, as you have already read. You can see Coach Schlossnagle’s comments about the game below.