Part of the reason TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle started Mitchell Traver on Friday, and the only reason he threw Brian Howard early Sunday, was to set up his two star lefties.
If the Frogs were going to win the NCAA Fort Worth Regional championship, they would need either Tyler Alexander or Alex Young — or both.
On Sunday night, after the Frogs’ 8-3 win over Stony Brook, Alexander got the call first and was up for the task.
In fact, for the first six innings, he was perfect as TCU’s offense jumped out to a 6-0 lead over North Carolina State, the team that sent the Frogs to the loser’s bracket late Saturday night.
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Alexander retired the first 18 batters he faced as TCU hitters pestered N.C. State starter Ryan Williamson.
In the second inning, TCU’s Nolan Brown poked a liner over third base, landing it just inside the line. When the throw in sailed past the shortstop, both Brown and Evan Skoug advanced a base, putting two runners in scoring position.
Keaton Jones struck out, but Derek Odell, at the plate with two outs, pulled a full-count pitch over the head of the second baseman to score Brown and Skoug.
The next inning, Jeremie Fagnan singled home Garrett Crain, and Dane Steinhagen tripled home Cody Jones and Fagnan.
TCU reliever Preston Guillory gave up two runs against his first two batters Sunday, but that was all he would allow. It was more than enough to settle the Frogs in their elimination game against Stony Brook.
Guillory entered with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning. Stony Brook then singled and grounded into a fielder’s choice to cut TCU’s lead to 5-3.
But Guillory struck out the next batter and retired seven more in a row to keep Stony Brook at a distance as the Frogs’ lead grew to 8-3.
Stony Brook’s two losses — 3-0 to North Carolina State on Friday and 8-3 to TCU on Sunday — were marked by momentum-building home runs.
Logan Ratledge’s two-run shot just over the left-field wall put N.C. State up 2-0, while Skoug’s three-run homer extended TCU’s lead to 5-1.
Stony Brook, which entered the Fort Worth Regional with seven home runs all season, hit one ball out of Lupton Stadium — a two-run homer in an 11-6 win over Sacred Heart.
When the Seawolves loaded the bases against TCU on Sunday, they could manage only a single and a fielder’s choice groundout.
“The big difference between us and [N.C. State and TCU] is that they hit the ball out of the ballpark and we just — it happens on occasion, and we put good swings on it, but we’re just not built for that,” Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said. “In one swing, they can put up a crooked number, and that hurt us this weekend.”
▪ TCU third baseman Odell was fantastic in the field Saturday and Sunday. In the Frogs’ first game against N.C. State, he made two Web Gem-worthy plays, including a dive toward the line that was followed by a run-saving throw to home. On Sunday, he made a similar play, instead throwing to get the runner at first. And in the nightcap, he barehanded a slow roller on the run to end the Wolfpack’s third inning.
▪ By way of coin flip, TCU was the visiting team in both games Sunday. That included the Frogs using the first-base dugout.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760