TCU pitcher Brandon Finnegan must wonder what he did wrong.
His bad luck hasn’t failed all season, including Friday night against Texas.
The left-hander from Fort Worth Southwest High School struck out a career-high 12 batters, including seven looking, but still left Lupton Stadium without a victory.
The sophomore is 0-7 after he received a no decision in TCU’s 9-3 win against the Longhorns in front of 4,212.
It even looked as if Finnegan might snap the spell Friday, when the Horned Frogs (28-25, 12-11 in the Big 12) scored two in the fifth and one in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead. Finnegan left the game after six innings after throwing more than 100 pitches. He’s likely to start the Frogs’ opener Wednesday at the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle will wait to learn the matchup before choosing his starter.
“It’s hard not to think about wins and losses because you want to get as many wins as you can for your team,” Finnegan said. “But they’re giving it all they got and we still won [Friday] and that’s all that matters.”
No matter TCU’s first-round opponent, Finnegan wouldn’t be a bad choice. He entered Friday’s game with a 2.89 ERA and should, in all fairness, been graced with a better record. In his 14 starts, including Friday night, TCU has scored 39 runs. And 23 of those runs came in three games, including Friday's. So in his 11 other starts the Frogs have scored only 16 runs. In three of his starts, TCU was shut out.
After leaving the game with a 3-2 lead Friday, Texas tied it at 3-3 after Andrew Mitchell hit a batter with two outs. A two-base throwing error on a pick-off attempt to first by Mitchell allowed the runner to move to third base. He scored on a single by Mark Payton.
TCU trailed 2-0 before tying the game with two runs in the fifth against Texas starter Dillon Peters. Peters had been rolling along, holding the TCU to three hits through the first four innings. But he walked lead-off batter Keaton Jones, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jones scored when center fielder Taylor Stell lost a high fly ball off Jerrick Suiter’s bat. Stell turned to track the flight but when he turned around a few feet deeper he held up his arms helplessly. Jones scored easily and Suiter was at second with a double. Suiter scored on Boomer White’s single up the middle to tie the game.
The Frogs scored six times in the eighth, including the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk by Keaton Jones off pitcher Corey Knebel, scoring Paul Hendrix. Kyle Bacak singled in pinch runner Kevin Daniels to make it 5-3. Knebel was ejected after objecting to the ball-four call by home plate umpire Doyle Sooter.
Knebel’s ejection followed previous ejections of Texas assistant coach Skip Johnson (in the seventh) and head coach Augie Garrido (in the eighth).
Last-place Texas dropped to 26-24 and 6-17 in the league.
White’s two-run single up the middle made it 9-3. He had two hits and three RBIs.
But Finnegan was no longer a factor in the decision by the time TCU exploded in the eighth. It has been that kind of season for him.
Schlossnagle even tried to get Finnegan a win Tuesday by putting him in with a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. UT Arlington, however, spoiled the plan after tying the game with a run in the sixth after Finnegan had left the game.
“Of course, I didn’t get [the win],” Finnegan said with a laugh. “You just have to keep grinding.”
Finnegan is hoping the first win comes when it matters most, in the Big 12 tournament next week.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” he said.
His coach just about guaranteed it to him after Friday’s game.
“I just told him you’re not going to go winless this season,” Schlossnagle said. “Your wins are going to come at the most important time of the year. Elite players want to get hits, they want to make plays, and they want to win games. And he’s the ultimate team guy but at some point we need to get him one.”
Morrison earns tryout
TCU right-hander Preston Morrison (7-3) received an invitation to try out for the College National Team, joining teammate Brandon Finnegan, who earned a spot several weeks ago.
Jim Schlossnagle will coach Team USA this summer. Morrison will have a chance to earn a spot on the 24-man roster.
“Preston has obviously shown that he is one of the premier pitchers in all of college baseball,” Schlossnagle said. “He has more than earned this great honor and opportunity.”