TCU’s season ends in second loss to Vanderbilt

TCU players watch from the dugout in the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game against Vanderbilt in Omaha, Neb., Friday, June 19, 2015. Vanderbilt defeated TCU 7-1 and advances to the championship series.
TCU players watch from the dugout in the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game against Vanderbilt in Omaha, Neb., Friday, June 19, 2015. Vanderbilt defeated TCU 7-1 and advances to the championship series. AP

The TCU Horned Frogs reached the end of the road Friday night.

It came up on them in a hurry.

Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler opened with six scoreless innings, Rhett Wiseman homered in the fourth inning, and the Commodores ran off with a 7-1 victory that ended the season for TCU and its most accomplished group of seniors.

“It’s hard to reflect right now, but it’s a really special group, and a group that has really helped establish us as a legitimate program, an Omaha program,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

Preston Morrison, Trey Teakell, Keaton Jones, Derek Odell and Travis Evans were part of TCU teams that went 18-10 in the postseason over the past four years, making two trips to the College World Series. Cody Jones, Garrett Crain and Jeremie Fagnan played on the 2013 and 2014 teams.

But there was little they, or anyone else on the team, could do to slow Vanderbilt on Friday night.

Buehler, a junior right-hander who hadn’t pitched in 18 days, opened the game throwing 97 mph, and by the time he had to face the TCU order for the third time, he had a 7-0 lead.

“He was tough,” TCU shortstop Keaton Jones said. “He was throwing it down the middle, hitting his spots in and out, and throwing his breaking ball on the corners, as well. For us, I think we were just trying to attack his fastball. But it was tough. He was pitching well.”

Vanderbilt has allowed four runs in three victories in Omaha.

“You’ve got to be at the top of your game to beat them,” Schlossnagle said of the defending national champions, who ended up holding the Horned Frogs’ offense to one run in 18 innings, handing them both their CWS losses. “That’s what Omaha baseball is all about. We’re among the final four; we’re one of those teams. But you’ve still got to play. We didn’t play as well tonight, and Buehler pitched great.”

The victory put Vanderbilt (50-19) in the championship series starting Monday against Florida or Virginia. If it is Virginia, it will be a rematch of last season’s championship. Florida, like TCU was, is trying to come out of the losers’ bracket with three wins in three days to reach the championship series.

“It didn’t start the way that we wanted offensively or defensively,” said Morrison, who won the CWS opener for TCU (51-15) on Sunday against LSU and pitched two innings of relief Friday night, giving up two runs. “When a guy like Buehler’s on, he’s really tough to beat. It’s just a tough game. I think the most important thing was that they played a great game.”

And TCU didn’t.

Starter Tyler Alexander walked the first batter he faced — only his 10th walk of the season — and hit the next batter, lending an ominous feel to the start of the game. It resulted in only one run, but immediately the Horned Frogs were playing uphill against a team that had already shut them out earlier in the week.

Alexander gave up four singles to start the third inning, making it 2-0. A strikeout followed, but the Commodores kept making contact — a single to center from Jeren Kendall made it 3-0 and chased Alexander.

Wiseman’s homer in the fourth inning off Brian Trieglaff, a high drive that went over the bullpen in right, made it 5-0.

And in the fifth, a leadoff triple sparked a two-run inning off Preston Morrison in relief for a 7-0 lead.

The Horned Frogs had a chance to break the shutout earlier. In a 3-0 game, Fagnan and Connor Wanhanen singled with one out in the fourth, bringing up Evan Skoug, the season RBI leader.

Skoug drew a favorable count at 2-1, but Buehler got him to ground into a double play to end the inning.

TCU stayed alive to reach the College World Series by rallying from an 8-1 deficit in the eighth inning against North Carolina State on June 1. A week later, they outlasted Texas A&M in a 16-inning to clinch their second consecutive trip to Omaha.

But there was no such drama this time.

Vanderbilt was too sharp, and the end of the road arrived for TCU.

“Congratulations to Vanderbilt on making the championship series,” Schlossnagle said. “Outstanding team. Really proud of our team. As I always say, there are no bad days in Omaha, some are just better than others. This one is certainly the worst one. But it’s still not a bad day.”

Just the last one.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

Today’s game

Florida (52-17) vs.

Virginia (41-23), 7 p.m., ESPN

Championship Series


Monday: Vanderbilt vs.

Florida/Virginia winner, 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Vanderbilt vs.

Florida/Virginia winner, 7 p.m.

x-Wed.: Vanderbilt vs.

Florida/Virginia winner, 7 p.m.

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