TCU

Battle of unbeatens: TCU, Baylor to meet in Big 12 championship

TCU's Michael Landestoy had two hits, including one of the Horned Frogs' five doubles and an RBI in Saturday's 7-3 win at the Big 12 tournament. TCU plays Baylor in the Big 12 championship at 1 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City, Okla.
TCU's Michael Landestoy had two hits, including one of the Horned Frogs' five doubles and an RBI in Saturday's 7-3 win at the Big 12 tournament. TCU plays Baylor in the Big 12 championship at 1 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City, Okla. Special to the Star-Telegram

TCU baseball is one win away from ensuring another trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Horned Frogs, who entered the Big 12 tournament needing a championship to ensure a postseason berth, advanced to Sunday's championship game against Baylor.

No. 6 seed TCU beat West Virginia 7-3 Saturday afternoon at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is 3-0 in the tournament.

It's the third time TCU has reached the Big 12 tournament championship in the past five seasons.

The No. 5 Baylor eliminated Oklahoma with a 10-3 win Saturday morning. Baylor is also 3-0. The championship is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Bears swept the Frogs (33-22) April 20-22 in Waco. Baylor outscored TCU 16-5. Baylor (35-19) is a lock to earn an at-large bid so a championship means less to them. The tournament's top four seeds, including regular-season Big 12 champion Texas, along with Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are also certain to earn tournament bids.

On Saturday, TCU was trailing 1-0 in the fourth before two bases-loaded walks gave the Frogs a 2-1 lead. Josh Watson, A.J. Balta and Michael Landestoy blew it open with consecutive RBI doubles that pushed the lead to 7-1.

Balta, the graduate student who transferred from Oregon for his final year of eligibility, has 10 RBIs in the tournament.

"He's been a life-saver," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "It sure would have been nice to see him sandwiched around [Luken] Baker especially in this ballpark, but we’ll take it."

The Frogs entered the tournament needing a championship to ensure they earned a berth in the 64-team NCAA postseason. The tournament winner earns an automatic bid. TCU's RPI, which dropped to 53 after Saturday's win, is still low enough to make an at-large bid tenuous. The Frogs' RPI has dropped 12 spots since going 3-0 at the tournament.

But with a win on Sunday, they'll return to the postseason for the 14th time in Schlossnagle's 15 seasons. TCU is the only team in the country to reach the College World Series the previous four seasons.

"Our program, there’s something about being in postseason like that, it becomes a part of you," Schlossnagle said. "And you tend to play the best when you’re needed the most."

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