On Tuesday morning TCU’s Preston Morrison was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year.
At the Big 12 tournament on Thursday afternoon, he showed why.
Morrison pitched his league-leading fifth complete as TCU defeated West Virginia 6-2 to advance to the tournament semifinals at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The No. 2-seeded Horned Frogs (40-15) get Friday off. TCU plays the winner of Friday’s elimination game between West Virginia (28-25) and Baylor (25-30) at 9 a.m. Saturday.
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Morrison (9-3) scattered seven hits, including three infield singles, and held the Mountaineers scoreless until the eighth. He struck out six and walked one.
“Preston is incredibly consistent and throws strikes with all his pitches,” said TCU catcher Kyle Bacak, whose RBI single gave the Frogs 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. “He was throwing his breaking balls and his change-ups for strikes. I don’t know if it was one of his best performances but it was a typical Preston Morrison, complete game, everything-you-could-ask-for performance.”
TCU scored five runs and batted around in the eighth to break open a tight game. WVU starter Corey Walter walked Kyle Bacak and Cody Jones before hitting Derek Odell to load the bases. He then walked Kevin Cron to make it 2-0 before Garrett Crain’s pop-up to shallow right field turned in to a run-scoring double. Jerrick Suiter followed with a two-run single to right to make it 6-0.
It gave the Frogs some breathing room and the big hit was a relief for Suiter, who has been seeing the ball as well as anyone in the TCU lineup lately.
“Absolutely. I’ve been kind of waiting for it, especially to drive the ball to right field. I haven’t done that in a long time,” Suiter said.
Morrison only got into trouble in the eighth after two infield singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. WVU scored one run on a sacrifice fly and a single up the middle before Morrison struck out Jacob Rice to end the inning with two runners stranded.
“I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff or my best command but no matter what you bring to the park you have to compete every day,” said Morrison, who has seven-career complete games.
For seven innings, Walter (1-6) was just as impressive as Morrison. He held TCU hitless until the fifth inning, when the Frogs finally broke a scoreless tie. Jerrick Suiter led off with a walk and Dylan Fitzgerald gave the Frogs runners on second and third after center fielder Bobby Boyd misjudged Fitzgerald’s fly into a double after the ball hit off his glove. After Keaton Jones grounded out, Kyle Bacak singled up the middle to score Suiter. Cody Jones ended the inning with a 4-6-3 double play, stranding Fitzgerald at third. Michael Bennett replaced Walter to face Fitzgerald, who singled to right, before retiring Keaton Jones, who started the inning with a strikeout.
“I thought both starting pitchers were outstanding,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Preston was rolling and I thought Corey Walter was really, really good. It was just a matter of who got the big hit and who made the mistake. Fortunately for us it went our way.”