The last person TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle wanted to see at the plate with the game on the line was Mark Payton. And he was reluctant to use sophomore closer Riley Ferrell three nights in a row.
Yet with the tying run on second base and one out in the eighth, left-hander Travis Evans struck Payton out looking by painting the outside corner with a 2-2 fastball. Ferrell, who said he “was sore in the right places,” convinced Schlossnagle to let him pitch the ninth.
He worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Zane Gurwitz to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play, sealing the Horned Frogs’ 3-1 win Saturday at Disch-Falk Field and completing TCU’s first sweep of the Longhorns in a three-game series since 1994.
“We had a lot of things bounce our way, which is what has to happen for us to win three games down here,” Schlossnagle said. “I wasn’t all that fired up about pitching [Ferrell] for a third day, but he said he had one inning in him. And he competed, which is what you expect out of your closer.”
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After shutting out Texas (31-10, 10-5 Big 12) on consecutive nights in the first two games of the series, TCU freshman left-hander Tyler Alexander surrendered a first-inning run. Alexander allowed a leadoff single to Brooks Marlow, who scored on a bases-loaded groundout by Collin Shaw to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.
It would be the last run allowed by the Horned Frogs (26-13, 10-5) all day.
“It was a phenomenal display of pitching, as good as college baseball has to offer,” Schlossnagle said of the series, which featured just nine runs in the three games. “I know everybody loves to talk about the SEC, but our league, in my opinion, is just as good. And nationally, I think the Big 12 deserves to get a little more respect.”
Alexander was not originally slated to start this week, but Alex Young, who was scheduled to start Saturday, was used out of the bullpen in Friday’s 2-0 win over Texas. Alexander wasn’t as good as Brandon Finnegan or Preston Morrison, who combined to toss 15 scoreless innings between the first two games of the series, but he was good enough.
Junior right-hander Trey Teakell gave the Frogs 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before giving way to Evans. Young then entered and got Tres Barrera to line out to third on his first pitch to end the inning.
“This is huge going into the next week, and it’s huge for us in the conference standings and the RPI,” said Dylan Fitzgerald, who drove in two runs for TCU.. “This is the biggest series I’ve been a part of, for sure.”