TCU bullpen falters for first time in Big 12 baseball tournament loss

Baylor's Kameron Esthay gets congratulations from teammates after his two-run home run in the first inning off TCU’s Alex Young during the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.
Baylor's Kameron Esthay gets congratulations from teammates after his two-run home run in the first inning off TCU’s Alex Young during the opening round of the Big 12 tournament. AP

Jim Schlossnagle’s not a betting man, but he will bet again on his two best bullpen arms Thursday if he has to.

And the day after that.

If there is one.

“My money’s on Trey Teakell and Riley Ferrell every single day of the week,” the TCU coach said Wednesday after his top-seeded team’s 6-5 upset loss to Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.

Teakell, pitching for the first time in 10 days, gave up a home run in the seventh inning. Ferrell, the TCU record-holder for career saves trying to get the final four outs, gave up a run on a wild pitch in the eighth and was charged with a run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth after he couldn’t finish the inning.

For the first time this year, TCU lost with a lead after six innings. The Horned Frogs had been 36-0 leading after six, 40-0 leading after seven.

Schlossnagle said he saw nothing unusual from the ace relievers.

“I thought Trey was good; his velocity was really good in the seventh inning. Hadn’t pitched in 10 days or so, so maybe he hit a little bit of a wall,” Schlossnagle said.

But for the first time ever, the veteran coach is left to pick up the pieces after a Ferrell blown save. The junior right-hander, expected to be a high pick in MLB’s amateur draft in June, threw two wild pitches and walked three.

“I can tell you this: Riley Ferrell’s been here three years. How many saves does he have? The school record, right? So he’s 32 for 33? I’ll take those numbers every day,” Schlossnagle said. “I hate to have him learn a lesson, because we’d rather win the game. But if you’re in this game long enough, those things are going to happen.”

The loss sent the Horned Frogs (43-10) into the loser’s bracket for a 9 a.m. game Thursday against Texas Tech.

It means the Frogs have to win Thursday, again on Friday, twice on Saturday and then Sunday to win the championship. Without a win Thursday, they go home, and their chances at a national seed in the NCAA playoffs are at risk, despite a regular-season championship and a top-five RPI.

“Our mindset is to win tomorrow,” Schlossnagle said. “No disrespect to this tournament, but we need to play better baseball. That’s all I care about.

“If it’s a win, great. If it’s a loss, I’ll deal with it. But we need to play good baseball so we’re playing good baseball next week.”

The Horned Frogs left 13 runners on base against Baylor (22-30), which was swept in Fort Worth in March and entered as the No. 8 seed.

Baylor hit three home runs, including the first of the season by leadoff hitter Logan Brown and No. 9 hitter Jonathan Ducoff, at ONEOK Field, the minor league Tulsa Drillers’ home park being used for the first time for the conference tournament.

Cody Jones went 3 for 4 with three RBIs for TCU, including a game-tying two-run single in the second inning and a run-scoring single for a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

Connor Wanhanen’s hit-and-run groundout scored another run in the fourth, and he scored on an infield single for a 5-3 lead in the sixth.

“We had our moments where we should have produced and didn’t,” said Jones, who a day earlier was named conference player of the year. “Baylor produced in those big moments. And we just didn’t today. We’ll get back to it. I’m not worried.”

Baylor’s comeback began with Brown’s home run to left off Teakell with two outs in the seventh. In the eighth, Teakell gave up a one-out single and a two-out single, and Ferrell came in. But Ferrell walked the bases loaded on five pitches, and a wild pitch followed to tie the game.

In the ninth, a four-pitch walk and two wild pitches put the go-ahead run at third base with no outs. After Ferrell’s third walk, Brian Trieglaff entered and gave up a sacrifice fly to right on a 1-2 pitch.

Ferrell (1-2) threw six strikes in 21 pitches.

“We think the world of him. We have full confidence in him,” Schlossnagle said. “Same situation tomorrow, he’ll be back out there.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @calexmendez

Big 12 tournament

TCU vs. Texas Tech

9 a.m. Thursday, FSSW Plus, FCS

Preston Morrison (11-1, 2.24) vs. Corey Taylor (3-0, 0.34)

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