TCU seemed to capture all of the late momentum during Friday afternoon’s College World Series opener against Oral Roberts, scoring three eighth-inning runs against talented closer Cade Denton to take a 5-2 lead entering the top of the ninth inning. With the Horned Frogs two outs away from victory, however, Oral Roberts stunned the TCU faithful after No. 9 hitter Blaze Brothers crushed a three-run homer off right-hander Luke Savage that ultimately lifted the Golden Eagles over the Horned Frogs 6-5. TCU had two batters reach base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but a lineout to left field sealed the Horned Frog defeat.
The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for TCU (42-23, 13-11 Big 12), who will take on No. 7 Virginia in an elimination contest Sunday afternoon. The winner will remain alive and face the loser of the matchup between Oral Roberts and No. 2 Florida. Right-hander Kole Klecker earned the start against the Golden Eagles, following up an impressive outing against Indiana State with another solid effort on Friday. The freshman tossed five scoreless frames and helped TCU maintain a 1-0 advantage after five innings. First baseman Cole Fontenelle continued his scorching hot stretch with a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave the Horned Frogs the first lead of the opening-round matchup.
Oral Roberts rallied in the top of the sixth inning, where Mac McCroskey belted a two-run shot off left-hander Ben Abeldt that put the Golden Eagles ahead 2-1. TCU answered right back in the bottom of the sixth inning, evening the score when Fontenelle poked an RBI single through the second-base side. The score remained tied until the bottom of the eighth inning, where center fielder Elijah Nunez sparked TCU’s three-run surge with a one-out single before catcher Karson Bowen drew a walk to put two batters on base. Oral Roberts went to the bullpen for Denton, who was forced to intentionally walk third baseman Brayden Taylor after falling behind in the count. With the bases loaded, Fontenelle worked a full-count walk and second baseman Tre Richardson drew a hit-by-pitch to score two runs.
Designated hitter Kurtis Byrne flung a sacrifice fly into left field to give TCU a 5-2 lead, which held until the top of the ninth inning, where Savage returned in relief after needing only nine pitches to fire a clean eighth inning. A hard grounder to third resulted in a throwing error by Taylor that moved Oral Roberts’ first batter of the frame into scoring position. After consecutive singles brought one run home to make the score 5-3, Brothers gave the Golden Eagles a one-run advantage with his towering home run to left field. Savage (5-4) took the loss and was ultimately tagged for five hits and four earned runs over one and two-thirds.
TCU threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning. where Denton remained in the game and conceded both a one-out single to right fielder Austin Davis and a one-out walk to Nunez. Denton managed to seal the Oral Roberts victory, however, striking out Bowen on a sweeping slider off the plate before getting Taylor to line out to left field. The Golden Eagles are now 24-1 over their last 25 games with Friday’s comeback win over the Horned Frogs.