Gil LeBreton

TCU’s attack ‘smothered’ by Texas A&M in Game 2

TCU starter Preston Morrison threw 105 pitches into the 10th inning Sunday. “He’s the best pitcher in the history of this school — bar none,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
TCU starter Preston Morrison threw 105 pitches into the 10th inning Sunday. “He’s the best pitcher in the history of this school — bar none,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. Star-Telegram

On Sunday, they rested.

The base runners. The scouts with the radar guns. The guys running the scoreboard.

As much as Saturday’s Super Regional opener belonged to the hitters, Sunday’s second game was a showcase for the two starting pitchers.

“If you’re a fan of baseball, most importantly pitching,” said Texas A&M coach Rob Childress, “to watch Preston Morrison and Matt Kent go at it, just put the radar gun down and appreciate what they do.

“It’s pretty special.”

In the 10th inning, after both TCU’s Morrison and A&M’s Kent finally had surrendered to their pitch counts, the Aggies evened the NCAA Super Regional series on a walk, a hit-and-run single and a sacrifice fly.

That’s all it took for a 2-1 Texas A&M victory, because left-hander Kent had crafted his way through 108 pitches and 7 2/3 innings of shutout, six-hit baseball.

Morrison, meanwhile, now 11-3 on the season, was lifted after throwing 105 pitches and shouldering the load for the Horned Frogs into the 10th.

One out from the finish, Morrison left the game — his final one at TCU’s Lupton Stadium — to the bittersweet sounds of a long and loud standing ovation.

“It’s been an unbelievable career,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He’s the best pitcher in the history of this school — bar none. It’s not even close. He’s a TCU hall of famer, for sure.

“Most of the time when I take the ball from him, we’re either winning or we’re right in the game, and that’s what happened today.”

Saturday’s game featured a combined 17 runs and 29 hits off seven pitchers.

But both teams had trouble Sunday getting the ball in the air. Only one of the Aggies’ first 18 outs was a flyout. The Frogs had five singles and only one fly ball to the outfield until the eighth.

“We knew Kent could really, really pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “We were hoping, because it was his third start in [10] days, that he would be a little tired. But he was even better.

“The story of the game is Kent, no doubt about it — and Preston, too. But Matt did a great job, and he found a rhythm, and it’s tough to beat a good pitcher like that when he gets it going.”

Kent, mixing his pitches and patiently never trying to overpower anyone, indeed was starting his third game in 10 days. In those three starts, covering 21-plus innings, the junior from Waco has allowed only one run.

Besides keeping the anxious Frogs in knots, Kent, with his lefty leg-kick, put a freeze on the TCU running game.

The Frogs had no stolen bases, stranded men on third base in the fifth and eighth innings and left two runners on in the ninth.

“It was two guys that don’t blow up the radar gun, and they proved you don’t have to do that to really, really pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “We had a few chances early, but Kent was smothering there until the end.”

“Smothering” was the appropriate word.

Faced with tournament elimination for the fourth time in the past two weeks, the Aggies elected to spar with the Frogs, rather than trade haymakers with them.

The strategy worked. The base paths were quiet. The scoreboard barely flickered.

A third and deciding game between these bitter old rivals seems only fitting.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments