COLLEGE STATION -- The bullpen that has been so reliable for TCU this season faltered Friday and the Horned Frogs' season is hanging by a thread.
Ole Miss broke open a tie game with four runs in the eighth inning to beat TCU 6-2 at Blue Bell Park in the College Station Regional.
The Frogs (36-20) face Dayton, a 4-1 loser to Texas A&M, at 12:35 p.m. today in an elimination game. Ole Miss (36-24) plays the Aggies at 6:35 p.m. Andrew Mitchell (5-3) will make the start for the Frogs. He was roughed up last week at the Mountain West tournament.
As was the Frogs' bullpen after a stellar regular season.
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The Rebels' took advantage of two walks and a hit batsman to blow the game open Friday in the eighth inning.
Left-hander Brandon Finnegan started the inning against a top of the order stacked with three left-handed batters. Finnegan, from Fort Worth Southwest High School, put two on with a walk and single. He had a 1-2 count on the next hitter, but TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle went to Kevin Allen, who struck out Matt Snyder on his first pitch.
Allen, however, hit Zach Kirksey to load the bases and then walked Auston Bousfield for the go-ahead run. Sikes Orvis singled up the middle to drive in two more. An error on a potential double-play grounder to second allowed the Rebels to build a four-run cushion.
"I was hoping Brandon could get through them one time, but it didn't work out," Schlossnagle said. "It was a disappointing last three innings for us. The majority of the season we haven't been an explosive offensive team, but the back end of our bullpen had been really good. We just didn't throw strikes, and we hit a batter, and then an error ...you're not going to win regional games playing like that. It was a good ballgame for seven innings, but it fell apart for us."
While the bullpen uncharacteristically struggled, the offense remained ineffective against hard-throwing right-hander Bobby Wahl.
TCU led 1-0 after Kyle Von Tungeln and Josh Elander led off the first inning with singles, and Kevin Cron picked up an RBI on a groundout.
Cron's fourth home run of the season gave the Frogs a 2-0 lead in the fourth, but Wahl (7-3) picked up steam. He struck out nine and held TCU to four hits in seven innings.
Rebels reliever R.J. Hively struck out three and held TCU to one hit in the final two innings.
"It's always good to minimize the inning, but I don't really think it was that bad of an inning," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said of Wahl's first inning. "[TCU] really maxed out that inning with only one [ball] hit well."
TCU freshman Preston Morrison pitched well but left the game with one out in the seventh after a walk and double put runners at second and third. Reliever Justin Scharf and the Frogs quickly received a break after the Rebels failed on a squeeze play and Will Jamison was out in a rundown.
TCU preserved the 2-2 tie with a groundout to end the inning. Finnegan took the loss and dropped to 3-4.
Although Von Tungeln and Elander combined for three hits, the rest of the Frogs' older players struggled. Jantzen Witte, Brett Johnson and Brance Rivera combined to go 0 for 10 with five strikeouts.
"We're going to have to put together better at-bats and compete every pitch," said Von Tungeln, who had two of the Frogs' five hits. "You can't ever take a pitch off mentally, and I felt like we did that a couple times."