Facing the team he grew up rooting for as a boy, Brandon Finnegan delivered arguably his best performance of the season.
The junior left-hander was masterful in TCU’s 3-0 win over Texas on Thursday night at Disch-Falk Field, tossing eight scoreless innings and striking out 11 to help the Horned Frogs win for the ninth time in their past 10 games.
Finnegan held the Longhorns hitless over his final five innings, retiring 16 of the last 17 batters he faced.
“I was a UT fan, but I signed here. After that, you kind of have to grow a hate for them,” Finnegan said. “This one means a lot to all of us, because they’re fifth in the nation and we want to show them that TCU is big time.”
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After Cody Jones started the game with a single up the middle, Texas ace Parker French sat down nine straight TCU hitters.
But the Horned Frogs broke through in the fifth. Jerrick Suiter led off the inning with a double to left before French beaned Dylan Fitzgerald.
Keaton Jones’ sacrifice bunt moved Suiter and Fitzgerald to second and third base, setting up a tie-breaking RBI single to right by Garrett Crain on a first-pitch fastball.
French threw the ball away trying to pick off Crain at first base, allowing Fitzgerald to score, then surrendered an RBI infield single to Cody Jones that put the Horned Frogs up 3-0.
“After the first four innings, I guess we just started getting pitches we could drive,” Crain said. “It started getting contagious. We started getting some hits and getting people on base.”
That was all the run support Finnegan needed. The southpaw from Fort Worth only got better as the game went along, scattering four hits and walking only one. He threw a season-high 117 pitches.
“He’s as an elite of a Friday night pitcher as there is in the country,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He found his breaking ball, he had all three pitches going. He had his fastball command.”
The closest the Longhorns, who were hitting .302 over their last 17 games entering Thursday’s contest, came to scoring was in the second inning. Texas shortstop C.J Hinojosa led off the inning with a double to right and moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Madison Carter.
But Finnegan, who fanned 12 Longhorns in a 9-3 victory last year, struck out Kacy Clemens swinging and got Zane Gurwitz to fly out to center to end the inning. Riley Ferrell picked up his seventh save of the year by retiring the side in the ninth, sealing a much-needed win for TCU.
“Sometimes you have to give the other guy credit. It isn’t always your fault when you lose,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “I don’t want to take anything away from what [Finnegan] accomplished. This night belonged to him.”