TCU advanced to the Big 12 tournament championship and perhaps moved one step closer to earning its first ever national seed.
Kevin Cron’s single to left in the seventh inning scored Boomer White for the go-ahead run as the Horned Frogs defeated Baylor 4-1 on Saturday morning.
TCU advances to the tournament championship game at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. TCU (41-15) will play the winner between Texas and Oklahoma State. OSU defeated Texas 3-1 Saturday afternoon, forcing a rematch 45 minutes later. TCU plays the winner on Sunday. TCU freshman left-hander Tyler Alexander (8-3) will start for the Frogs. Baylor (26-31) was eliminated with the loss and its season is over.
After Cron drove in the go-ahead run, Jerrick Suiter followed with a single to right to score Cron from second to make it 3-1.
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TCU’s ace left-hander Brandon Finnegan held Baylor to a run on three hits with seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings before giving way to Trey Teakell.
No. 2-seeded TCU led 1-0 after Cody Jones led off the third with a walk and stole second base. He moved to third on a Derek Odell’s groundout and scored on Cron’s two-out single to center field. Garrett Crain followed with a single but Jerrick Suiter’s line drive to left ended the inning.
Finnegan breezed through the first three innings and retired the first 10 batters he faced. In the fourth, Baylor’s Lawton Langford singled and Brett Doe walked with one out. With two outs, Adam Toth’s hard shot to third base deflected off Odell’s glove allowing Langford to score to tie the game at 1-1. Finnegan walked Aaron Dodson to load the bases but forced a flyout to right to end the inning. He threw 91 pitches before coming out after a single in the fifth put two on with two outs. Teakell came in and retired Brett Doe to end the inning.
Teakell (5-0) was outstanding in relief. He held the seventh-seeded Bears to three hits in three innings to earn the win. With two outs in the eighth, Baylor put two on with a double and single which prompted TCU to bring in closer Riley Ferrell. Dodson grounded out on Ferrell’s first pitch. Ferrell earned his 13th save after striking out the side in the ninth.
“I thought Finny was his normal self,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He was outstanding and Teakell did his job as he has done all year. Riley is as good a closer as there is in the country. It was a very well-played, complete game for TCU.”
Odell’s RBI single through the right side in the eighth inning pushed the lead to 4-1. Cron was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
TCU has won 26 of its last 29 games, a factor that shoud weigh positively with the NCAA selection committee. The Frogs’ players were relatively subdued after the game. They didn’t appear like a team that had just secured its first trip to the Big 12 championship.
“It kind of shows everything we’ve done up to this point has paid off,” Cron said. “But we’re not done yet and that’s kind of been the feel since the game ended. We’ve got one more left.”
Baylor freshman Daniel Castano held TCU to one run on seven hits before closer Josh Michalec started the seventh with the game tied at 1-1.
“We had chances to get to him early and had a lot of good at-bats. We just kept hitting some balls at people,” Schlossnagle said.
Finnegan had his best outing since missing a week last month with shoulder soreness. He lost at Baylor last week after allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings.
“I thought he was a little sharper today,” said Langford, who had two of the Bears’ six hits and scored their only run. “He pounded the zone a little better and it’s tough to compete against a guy like that but I thought our guys did a really good job of grinding out at-bats.”
TCU stranded nine runners through six innings, including five at second base. Suiter twice lined out hard to left with a runner at second. The Frogs collected 13 hits and left 13 runners on.
In the first inning, Cody Jones led off with a single and stole second but was doubled up on Odell’s line out to center field. Later in the inning, TCU had Boomer White and Cron aboard but Crain’s groundout to third ended the inning.