Boomer White roped a 2-2 pitch to center field and Cody Jones raced home from second base to score the winning run as TCU outlasted Siena 2-1 in 11 innings Friday night.
The Horned Frogs (43-15) had to sweat out their Fort Worth Regional opener in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,120 at Lupton Stadium.
Top-seeded TCU plays Sam Houston State (42-17) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the winner’s bracket game. The No. 3-seeded Bearkats defeated Dallas Baptist 2-1 on Friday afternoon.
DBU (40-20) and Siena (26-32) meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in an elimination game.
TCU right-hander Preston Morrison (9-3) will start for the Frogs on Saturday night.
In the 11th inning, Cody Jones walked with two outs and stole second. Derek Odell followed with a walk to set up White’s heroics. White fell behind 1-2 in the count before a ball evened it at 2-2 against Siena reliever Matt Quintana. Jones, the fastest player on TCU’s roster, rounded third and scored easily when center fielder Dan Swain’s throw home sailed high.
“It got real loud real quick,” White said. “That’s probably the biggest crowd I’ve played in here.”
TCU closer Riley Ferrell replaced starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan with one out in the eighth after Dave Hoffman’s triple down the right field line tied the game.
Ferrell struck out Tyler Martis for the second out and got Vincent Citro to ground out to shortstop Keaton Jones, who made a tough play look easy, moving quickly to his left to make the stop and then threw out Citro who slid headfirst into first base to end the inning.
Ferrell struck out five in 2 2/3 innings, the most he’s thrown since going four innings against Dallas Baptist on March 4. Trey Teakell (6-0) pitched the 11th to earn the win.
“Obviously, a great baseball game,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I can’t compliment Siena enough for their performance and [pitcher] Matt Gage is for real.
“I’m sure there are some TCU fans that think this was some sort of a less than 100 percent performance, but really the pitchers played great. Gage had good movement and a good breaking ball and that’s what tournament ball is all about.
“The key for us was the way we played defensively. Bottom line is we’re 1-0 and you don’t get style points for winning, so we’ll take it.”
TCU led 1-0 after White doubled with two outs and scored on Kevin Cron’s single up the middle in the first inning.
The Frogs left base runners stranded throughout the night. Eight runners were left on through the first five innings, including twice stranding a runner at third base.
In the eighth, the Frogs had runners on the corners with one out when Dylan Fitzgerald grounded into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. The Saints’ defense was sixth in the nation with 64 double plays entering Friday’s game.
Again in the ninth, TCU had the winning run at second base after Keaton Jones reached on a throwing error and moved to second on Kyle Bacak’s sacrifice bunt. But Siena third baseman Justin Esquerra made a nice backhanded stop down the line and threw out Cody Jones and Odell popped out to left field to end the inning.
Siena had the lead-off man on in the fifth and sixth innings but Finnegan worked out of both times. In the sixth, Dave Hoffmann led off with a double to left field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Finnegan struck out Mike Allen to end the innning.
Both starting pitchers were fantastic. Finnegan allowed a run on four hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing since he went eight innings at Texas on April 17. He struck out 12 and walked one.
Siena left-hander Gage (4-7) threw 129 pitches in nine innings, holding the Frogs to one run on six hits. Gage’s high-pitch count this season is 137. He walked four and struck out five.
FORT WORTH REGIONAL
at Lupton Stadium
TCU 2, Siena 1 (11)
Sam Houston State 2, Dallas Baptist 1
DBU vs. Siena, 2:30 p.m.
Sam Houston St. vs. TCU, 7 p.m.