TCU reached into its bag of tricks and found more postseason magic Sunday at the College World Series.
The Horned Frogs scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Texas Tech 3-2 in their CWS opener at TD Ameritrade Park.
After the Red Raiders scored twice in the top of the inning to claim a 2-1 lead, Keaton Jones led off with an infield single and moved to second on Kyle Bacak’s sacrifice bunt.
Tech second baseman Alec Humphreys made a nice stop on Cody Jones’ infield single up the middle. But instead of holding on to the ball against the speedy Jones, Humphreys made an ill-advised throw, which sailed over the first baseman’s head. Keaton Jones was able to come around and score the tying run on the error, and Cody Jones moved to second.
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Boomer White followed with a run-scoring single to left field to drive in Cody Jones with the go-ahead run in front of 24,587.
TCU (48-16) advances to play Virginia at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Texas Tech (45-20) plays Ole Miss in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
“Cody’s at-bat was the at-bat of the inning,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of Jones, who fell behind 0-2 before working the count even and reaching with his second hit of the game. “Obviously, Boomer’s hit was huge. But Cody’s at-bat, just to fight off pitches.
“[Jonny] Drozd has been so good for them all year long. Cody just putting the ball in play and letting his legs do the rest was huge.”
TCU closer Riley Ferrell, who entered the game with one out and a runner on in the eighth, was rocked for two hits, including a two-run triple off the right-field wall by Tyler Neslony. That hit gave the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead, and it was the first run Ferrell has allowed since May 10 .
With the Frogs clinging to a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth, Ferrell replaced starter Preston Morrison, who had just allowed a one-out single.
Pinch hitter Anthony Lyons roped a single to left and moved to second on an error by White, giving Tech runners at second and third with one out and setting up Neslony’s go-ahead triple.
In the ninth, Tech didn’t go quietly. The Red Raiders had two on with two outs before Ferrell (3-1) retired pinch hitter Todd Ritchie to earn the win.
Both starters were phenomenal. But neither Morrison nor Red Raiders lefty Chris Sadberry factored in the decision. Drozd (7-1) earned his first loss of the year after allowing the two runs in the eighth.
Morrison struck out a career-high 10 in 7 1/3 innings. Morrison is only the third pitcher to have 10 or more strikeouts since the CWS moved to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011. He allowed one run on five hits and two walks and had Red Raiders hitters fooled much of the time.
“It wasn’t me going for the strikeout,” said Morrison, whose ERA is 1.32. “I was just trying to make good pitches. Whenever I got them down 0-2, 1-2 or 2-2, then I knew I could go for the strikeout.”
TCU needed everything it got from Morrison because the offense struggled against Sadberry, who held the Frogs to one run on three hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two.
In the first, TCU took a 1-0 lead after Cody Jones led off with a double and moved to third on Derek Odell’s sacrifice bunt. Jones came home on White’s sacrifice fly to center field. It was the first run allowed by the Red Raiders (45-20) in their last three postseason games.
Morrison cruised through the first four innings, although twice he had to work out of jams with two runners on in the second and fourth innings.
In the fifth, Tech’s first two hitters reached on a single and walk. Morrison struck out Stephen Smith, who missed bunt attempts to fall behind 0-2, for the first out. Morrison then forced Devon Conley into an inning-ending double play on a grounder to third baseman Odell, who stepped on the bag and threw to first to end the threat.
“It’s a tough, tough way to lose your first game up here,” Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. “At the same time, we won’t look back and get ready to go on Tuesday.”
Five of TCU’s six postseason victories have been by one run. The Frogs are 9-4 this season in one-run games.
“I’m not telling you I’m very comfortable with it, but these guys are,” Schlossnagle said. “And they don’t panic a bit. It’s just, let’s put together some good at-bats and see what happens. And, honestly, I try to stay out of the way, because they’re very comfortable in playing in close games.”