Baylor’s pinch-hit blast in ninth is difference against TCU

Posted Friday, Apr. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Baylor at TCU Game 1: Baylor 3, TCU 2 Game 2: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, TCU LHP Brandon Finnegan (0-5) vs. RHP Austin Stone (2-2) Game 3: 1 p.m. Sunday, TCU RHP Andrew Mitchell (0-1) vs. RHP Dillon Newman (3-2) TV: FCS (Saturday); FSSW Plus (Sunday); Radio: KTCU/88.7 FM

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Both TCU and Baylor took advantage of some breaks in the field, but one big Bears’ blast in the ninth was the difference.

Baylor freshman Mitch Price’s pinch-hit home run over the left-field wall Friday gave the Bears a 3-2 win in front of 3,802 at Lupton Stadium.

The Frogs (17-21, 5-8 in the Big 12) host the Bears (20-18, 8-4) in Game 2 at 3:30 p.m. today.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jerrick Suiter hit a ball to deep left-center but it was caught to end the game.

Both starting pitchers flirted with trouble early. TCU’s Preston Morrison was greeted with three singles in the first inning, including Cal Towey’s run-scoring single that gave Baylor a 1-0 lead. But he settled down and retired 12 consecutive batters from the third to seventh inning.

Baylor starter Max Garner held TCU to two runs on five hits in seven innings. Jantzen Witte’s single scored Kyle Bacak to tie it at 1-1 in the third. The Frogs led 2-1 after Hendrix’s RBI-double to right scored Cody Jones. Three times, however, TCU failed to score with a runner at third, including in the second inning when the Frogs had runners at second and third with no outs. Garner escaped unscathed after striking out Brett Johnson and forcing Keaton Jones into a 5-4-3 double play.

“That was a real disappointing at bat by a couple guys in that inning,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

Morrison held Baylor to six hits in eight innings, including three that didn’t get out of the infield. Twice slow choppers deflected off his glove, resulting in no play for shortstop Keaton Jones. Jake Miller tied the game with an RBI-single off Morrison’s glove in the eighth.

“Our better hitters got their hits, but [Morrison] commanded the game after the first three guys,” Baylor coach Steve Smith said. “We strand (runners on) second and third, and he commanded the game after that. We get a break on the deflection on Jake’s ball. They get some breaks, though, too. Grayson [Porter] hit the ball hard, squared it up twice and hit it right at the third baseman.”

Alex Young replaced Morrison on the mound in the ninth and struck out Adam Toth for the first out before Price’s game-winning homer on a 1-0 fastball.

“We had some tough luck twice. Preston is one of the best fielding pitchers I’ve ever coached but it’s just one of those deals where it’s barely off his glove,” Schlossnagle said. “He makes those plays, or he’s also been a guy who has shown savvy enough to let it go when it’s a ball he can get.”

Crayton Bare took over after Boomer White singled to start the eighth inning. White advanced to second when Bare balked with Paul Hendrix at the plate. Hendrix struck out and Bare forced two groundouts to strand the potential go-ahead run in White at third.

“We have to come out hot tomorrow,” Suiter said. “We haven’t put up the runs we need early in games and I think it helps when we do that. It takes something off our pitchers’ backs. They pitch more relaxed. It helps the entire team. One guy hits, the next guy hits. It’s contagious and if we can string a couple together and not leave guys on base we’re going to play well. Winning the series is the main goal.”

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

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