TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle knew what C.J Hinojosa was capable of.
Having coached Hinojosa on Team USA’s collegiate team, Schlossnagle was worried when he saw Hinojosa step to the plate with his Horned Frogs protecting a 2-0 lead with two outs in the eighth inning Friday night.
“Other than [Mark] Payton, the only guy I would not want to face [Riley] Ferrell with the game on the line is Hinojosa,” Schlossnagle said. “I think the world of that young man and I knew he was not going to go down without a big-time fight.”
He didn’t. Hinojosa lined a 2-2 pitch to the right side of the infield, but second baseman Garrett Crain made a diving catch to end the inning and keep TCU ahead.
Ferrell, who was clocked at 99 mph in the at-bat, picked up his second save in as many nights by retiring the side in the ninth. Preston Morrison tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and throwing a season-high 106 pitches as TCU (25-13, 9-5) took a 2-0 victory over the Longhorns (30-10, 9-5) at Disch-Falk Field, extending the Frogs’ shutout streak to 27 1/3 innings.
The closest Texas came to scoring with Morrison on the mound was in the seventh, when the junior right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Hinojosa and walked Kacy Clemens to start the inning. But he struck out Jacob Felts, who twice failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt, and Zane Gurwitz before getting Brooks Marlow to fly out to left.
“After that strikeout [of Felts], I realized if I made another good pitch, I could get a double play and I ended up getting another strikeout,” Morrison said. “With two away, I beared down and threw a pretty good fastball. [Marlow] got a hold of it, but luckily it hung up there a bit.”
In a bizarre turn of ensuing seventh-inning events, Horned Frogs first baseman Kevin Cron hit a ball that hung up there a bit with two outs as well. Instead of being caught, what seemed like a routine fly ball turned into an RBI triple as Texas left fielder Ben Johnson appeared to lose the ball in the lights.
“It felt really good off the bat,” Cron recalled. “I had no idea where it went and luckily the left fielder felt the same way.”
All that was left was for Crain to make a potentially game-saving play in the eighth and for Ferrell to shut the door in the ninth. Schlossnagle turned to Alex Young, who was scheduled to start Saturday’s series finale, to replace Morrison in the eighth. After plunking Payton with his first pitch, Young settled down and retired the next two batters. Ferrell came in to record the final four outs, including the last out in the eighth.
Freshman left-hander Tyler Alexander will start in Young’s place Saturday. If TCU triumphs in the series finale, it will mark the first time the Horned Frogs have swept the Longhorns in a three-game series since 1994.
Friday’s win marked the first time Texas was shut out in consecutive games since a doubleheader against North Carolina State on Mar. 15, 2004.