The atmosphere in the losing locker room Sunday at Lupton Stadium told TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle something.
His team is ready for a must-win game.
“It was a heck of a lot better than it was after we lost that game to N.C. State,” he said. “That was a tough one to take.”
No doubt, but so was Sunday’s 2-1 loss in 10 innings to Texas A&M in Game 2 of a super regional series. It cost the Horned Frogs a chance to win the series and advance to the College World Series.
The Frogs and Aggies must now play a deciding Game 3 at 7 p.m. Monday at Lupton Stadium, where TCU is 31-4 this season. Either way, it’s the last game of the year at Lupton, which saw Preston Morrison pitch for the final time in a four-year career and narrowly fall to Texas A&M’s Matt Kent.
But the Frogs have been here before — in worse position. They had to rebound last weekend to win three straight games following a stunning 5-4 loss on a two-run homer in the ninth inning against N.C. State. This time, they only need to win one.
“Got a veteran club,” Schlossnagle said. “They’ll be ready to go.”
Second baseman Garrett Crain, one of eight seniors for the Frogs trying to reach a second consecutive College World Series, said he has complete confidence for Game 3.
“We know all the hard work that we’ve put in, everything we’ve done to this point, it’s been for games like this,” he said. “We have all the confidence in the world. We have so much confidence in our pitchers that they’re going to go out there, keep us in the game, and that we’re going to score some runs.”
Texas A&M (50-13) won Sunday on a sacrifice fly from senior shortstop Blake Allemand in the 10th inning. He lifted a 1-1 pitch from TCU closer Riley Ferrell close to the foul line in left field to score Nick Choruby ahead of Dane Steinhagen’s throw.
It pinned only the third loss of the season on Morrison (11-3), who started the 10th with a strikeout but walked Choruby on a 3-1 pitch.
The next hitter, Michael Barash, singled to put runners at the corners, and Morrison exited to hugs from his teammates and cheers from 7,383 — a second record attendance in two days at Lupton.
“If I had to do anything over, I might have brought Riley in beforehand,” Schlossnagle said. “We knew they were hitting and running — no doubt about it, it was the right play. Would have rather made them hit and run off Ferrell than against Preston.
“But Preston, if he gets the ball down, maybe he gets a ground ball or something. But when you’re the visiting team and you have those guys coming up, those are really good players, your options are limited.”
Morrison gave up the game’s first run on a slider that he said missed, resulting in a two-out double in the sixth for Logan Taylor.
The Frogs couldn’t tie the score until the top of the ninth on Keaton Jones’ sacrifice fly. But they stranded the go-ahead run at second when Derek Odell, their postseason RBI leader, flied out to center.
“Our best chance was to try to get that extra run in the ninth inning,” Schlossnagle said. “Derek had a great at-bat; didn’t turn out.
“Really proud of the way we played, and excited to get a chance to play again tomorrow.”
The Frogs will likely start junior left-hander Alex Young, while A&M will go with sophomore left-hander Tyler Stubblefield.
Schlossnagle has his entire bullpen available. The Aggies had to use Ryan Hendrix (6-3), who won in relief, for 34 pitches in 2 1/3 innings.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve been to Omaha twice at TCU, and both times we won the first one, lost the second and did OK in the third. I’m going to bank on that.
“Past never equals future in baseball, though. You have to play the game.”
And you must win it.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760
Fort Worth Super Regional
TCU (48-13) vs. A&M (50-13)
at Lupton Stadium
Game 1: TCU 13, Texas A&M 4
Game 2: Texas A&M 2, TCU 1 (10)
Game 3: Texas A&M at TCU, 7 p.m. Monday, ESPN