Evan Skoug’s dramatic homer lifts TCU within one win of College World Series

TCU catcher Evan Skoug (9) is greeted by teammates following his go-ahead homer in the eighth inning against Missouri State. Among the players reacting are Brian Howard (purple), Connor Wanhanen (back) and Jared Janczak (41).
TCU catcher Evan Skoug (9) is greeted by teammates following his go-ahead homer in the eighth inning against Missouri State. Among the players reacting are Brian Howard (purple), Connor Wanhanen (back) and Jared Janczak (41). Special to the Star-Telegram

That was a moment.

There have been so many for TCU over the past four seasons — the 22-inning game in 2014, the comeback for the ages against NC State in 2015, the 16-inning affair against Texas A&M, Luken Baker’s home run against Texas Tech at the 2016 College World Series, and many others.

Now, Evan Skoug’s home run in the Super Regional opener against Missouri State on Saturday night.

Batting as the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, the junior catcher lifted a fly ball high over the fence in right field to send the Horned Frogs to a 3-2 victory over the Bears in front of 5,181 at Lupton Stadium.

“It’s really hard to put that one in words,” Skoug said. “I’m very fortunate and very thankful. I mean, that was one of the cooler things I’ve done in my life.”

Game 2 is at 5 p.m. Sunday at Lupton Stadium, with TCU (46-16) bidding for a fourth consecutive trip to the College World Series and Missouri State (43-19) trying to extend the series to Monday. Neither team announced a starting pitcher.

“What an amazing baseball game,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “That one will go down as one of the most amazing ever played in this ballpark, as far as I’m concerned.”

The homer put Skoug alone in fifth place all-time at TCU in career home runs (35) and RBIs (161) in 193 games. His 19 home runs this season are the most by a TCU player in 20 years.

Skoug, likely a high pick in next week’s MLB Draft, has homered in 15 of his last 32 games and in three of TCU’s four NCAA tournament games this season. In 26 career NCAA postseason games, Skoug is hitting .327 with six doubles, four home runs and 19 RBIs.

“Somebody asked me in the press conference yesterday if Evan had done enough to go down as one of the great TCU players,” Schlossnagle said. “He certainly had long before today, but he certainly put a stamp on that tonight.”

Skoug’s homer turned around a game in which TCU had been stumped by Missouri State starter Dylan Coleman, who threw 132 pitches before giving way following a walk to designated hitter Zach Humphreys with one out in the eighth inning. Coleman struck out 10 and had retired Skoug three times, two by strikeout.

“As good a game as has been pitched on this field by a visiting team as I can remember,” Schlossnagle said.

Left-hander Jordan Knutson entered to face Skoug, who turned around his 2-1 pitch into the packed terrace in right field.

“No, he left it out over the plate,” Missouri State coach Keith Guttin said when asked if it was a good pitch from Knutson. “Skoug’s a good hitter with power.”

Durbin Feltman got a double play to pitch around a leadoff walk and a one-out single in the ninth inning to record his 17th save — a TCU single-season record.

Sean Wymer (5-4) won with 1  2/3 innings of shutout relief.

Jeremy Eierman homered to lead off the second inning for Missouri State, the first home run surrendered by TCU starter Jared Janczak.

Ryan Merrill’s two-out RBI single in the second tied it for TCU.

The game stayed there until Hunter Steinmetz’s bunt single scored a runner from third in the fifth for Missouri State after the Frogs failed to record an out on a fielder’s choice to that base.

In the eighth inning, facing the top of the order, Coleman retired Austen Wade on a ground ball to second but walked freshman DH Humphreys on five pitches to bring up Skoug.

“The strength of our team is their presence and their savvy and their experience and the fact that they’ve been in these situations so many times,” Schlossnagle said. “They never panic. It’s always about the next pitch. The more you’re in these situations, the more opportunities you have to have a great moment.”

That was one of them.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

TCU vs. Missouri State

5 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2/ESPNU

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