TCU rallies for three runs in ninth to stun Oklahoma State

Posted Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Oklahoma State at TCU (at Lupton Stadium) Game 1: TCU 2, OSU 0 Game 2: OSU 4, TCU 1 Game 3: TCU 3, OSU 2 Up next: TCU at UT Arlington, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

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TCU’s offense came alive in dramatic fashion Sunday and, perhaps resuscitated the Horned Frogs’ season that was nearing last rites.

After being stymied for much of the day, TCU scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun Oklahoma State 3-2 in front of 3,848 at Lupton Stadium. The win not only gave TCU (16-20, 5-7 in the Big 12) the series, 2-1, but turned what seemed destined to be another futile offensive day into a potential rallying point for the rest of the season.

Brett Johnson, pinch hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, belted a 3-2 pitch over the head of OSU center fielder Jarrett Higgins, who misjudged the ball off the bat. Jantzen Witte and Kevin Cron scored easily to tie it, and Dylan Fitzgerald’s headfirst slide just beat the throw home.

“They had many chances to add on runs, and the defense and pitchers did a great job not letting them,” Johnson said. “And we were able to get it done. Hopefully, this is the game that gets us going. When I saw it go over his head I looked straight at Fitz and saw he was rounding [third] and was hoping he had the speed to get there.”

Higgins, who was playing a tad shallow on the game-winning double, replaced starting outfielder Saulyer Saxon in the eighth inning.

“If this isn’t the kind of thing that flips your season around then I don’t know what is,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “So we’ll find out.”

For much of the afternoon, OSU starter Tyler Nurdin baffled TCU. The Frogs collected three hits in the first inning, but failed to score when Cody Jones was thrown out at home on Paul Hendrix’s single to right.

From there, Nurdin held the Frogs to two hits over the next 6 1/3 innings, including just one out of the infield. Nurdin, who graduated from Fort Worth Paschal High School, close to the TCU campus, struck out seven (including four batters looking) and walked two in 7 1/3 innings. Brendan McCurry replaced him in the eighth.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys scored unearned runs in the first and second innings against Andrew Mitchell, who allowed three hits and two walks in three innings.

TCU’s bullpen helped keep OSU scoreless the rest of the game, as four pitchers combined to allow four hits. But seven walks, including three by Trevor Seidenberger, threatened to put the Frogs in a deeper hole.

OSU threatened with runners in scoring position in each inning. Twice the Cowboys (24-10, 5-6) had the bases loaded but came up empty.

In the third, Mitchell forced a pop-up to escape the jam. In the sixth, Riley Ferrell came in for Seidenberger and forced a flyout. In the top of the ninth, Alex Young had a runner on second with one out before first baseman Derek Odell made a diving stop to his right and threw to Young covering the bag to end the inning. TCU pitchers stranded 15 runners.

Witte and Cron started the ninth with singles before Odell lined out to short. Cron was nearly pulled for a left-handed pinch hitter but he convinced Schlossnagle to let him hit.

“Yes sir, I can hit anybody,” Cron told Schlossnagle. But Cron was quickly in an 0-2 hole after watching two curveballs land in the strike zone.

“Then he came with a fastball just to show me he had one, I guess,” Cron said of McCurry. “Then he went right back to the curveball and I was ready for it. It was a good pitch by him, I just had to kind of get a bat on it. I couldn’t strike out in that situation. I had to try anything to get on base in that situation and just found a hole.”

Fitzgerald pinch-hit for Jerrick Suiter and was intentionally walked to load the bases, which brought up Johnson, pinch-hitting for Keaton Jones.

“It was just so awesome to see Brett come through there in the end,” said Witte, who had two of TCU’s eight hits. “This was awesome. Hopefully it will kick-start us for the rest of the year. We’ve had some tough games and tough plays that haven’t gone our way and today wasn’t any different until the very end and finally something fell for us and we came through. It was awesome.”

Schlossnagle coached Sunday

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle was in the dugout Sunday. It was erroneously reported by the Big 12 umpire observer that Schlossnagle would miss Sunday’s game after being ejected Saturday. Only players and assistant coaches are subject to the automatic suspension following an ejection.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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