TCU improves chances for at-large bid with one-hitter

05/19/2012 11:07 PM

11/09/2013 10:56 AM

TCU's chances of winning its final outright Mountain West Conference title were moot before the Horned Frogs' game began Saturday.

But behind freshman Preston Morrison's first-career complete game, the Frogs defeated San Diego State 4-0 and can claim a share of the MWC regular-season title with a win in today's regular-season finale.

New Mexico finished a sweep of last-place Air Force on Saturday to clinch a share of the title and secure the top seed in the MWC tournament next week in Las Vegas by virtue of a tiebreaker over TCU.

With a win today, TCU would finish at 18-6, tied with New Mexico, but the Lobos were 5-1 against San Diego State, the second-place team. The Frogs, with a win today, would finish 4-2 against the Aztecs, giving the edge to New Mexico in the tiebreaker.

TCU opens the MWC tournament against San Diego State at 5 p.m. Thursday at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas. The Lobos play bottom-seeded UNLV at 9 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.

The tournament winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. TCU (34-17, 17-6) is likely to earn an at-large bid with a Ratings Percentage Index ranking in the low 30s as of Saturday.

"Right now, it's just a matter of winning games, because we want to put ourselves in a position where we don't have to win the tournament," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "That's always the goal in this program for the regular season, to put ourselves in a position to be an at-large team in the NCAA Tournament."

Morrison's gem may have put the Frogs in that position, barring a collapse in Las Vegas. Morrison pitched the first one-hit complete game for TCU since Derek Lee against Baylor in 1996. Kyle Winkler and Erik Miller combined on one for TCU last season.

Morrison hasn't allowed a run in his last 19 2/3 innings and improved to 9-0.

"I had trouble getting inside on them, especially with my fastball and sinker," Morrison said. "But I was able to mix my speeds and keep everything in line."

Morrison was in trouble only once. After a hit batter and single gave the Aztecs two on with no outs in the second, he forced two groundouts and a flyout to end the inning. He retired the next 21 batters, retiring the side in order from the third through the eighth inning, until an error in the ninth and finished with five strikeouts and no walks.

"Those short innings didn't really take much effort -- I loved it," Morrison said. "It's a credit to my defense."

Kyle Von Tungeln was 4 for 5 at the plate with two RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the third that gave TCU a 1-0 lead.

The Frogs added two more runs in the fifth on four hits, including three consecutive hits by Josh Elander, Jason Coats and Jantzen Witte. TCU collected 16 hits, the third-most this season.

Stefan Stevenson

817-390-7760

Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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