By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Setting records while not making a positive mark in the won-loss record tends to be a hollow accomplishment. That’s what happened to TCU Tuesday night at the College World Series in Omaha.
In a game matching the only two national seeds to reach the CWS, Virginia outlasted the Horned Frogs, 3-2, in 15 innings. It equaled the longest game in terms of innings in CWS history and it was TCU’s seventh one-run game – an NCAA record.
Neither team scored for nine innings until the Cavaliers (51-14) pushed across the winning run. Catcher Nate Irving led off the bottom of the 15th with a ground-rule double to left field that was just out of the reach of Boomer White.
After a sacrifice bunt moved pinch runner Thomas Woodruff to third, shortstop Daniel Pinero lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field that was deep enough to score the runner.
Virginia scored in the bottom of the first against TCU starter Brandon Finnegan to take a 1-0 lead. An error on the throw on a sacrifice fly allowed the Cavaliers’ Branden Cogswell, who had led off with a double, to score.
TCU (48-17) put together three hits and took advantage of an error by Pinero to score two runs in the top of the second. The Cavs tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth on a double, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out.
TCU starter Brandon Finnegan and reliever Riley Ferrell pitched 12 innings, allowed two runs, struck out nine and allowed 10 hits.
Virginia catcher Nate Irving led off the bottom of the 15th with a ground-rule double that barely eluded the reach of TCU left fielder Boomer White.
Numbers to know
TCU has played 21 extra innings in the NCAA tournament thus far. That’s the equivalent of two extra games plus three innings.
Virginia is 15-7 in one-run games and has won both its CWS games in walk-off fashion.
TCU first baseman Kevin Cron set an NCAA College World Series record with 23 putouts.
TCU has had seven of its eight NCAA games decided by one run; the Horned Frogs are 5-2 in those games. The seven one-run games is an NCAA record for one post-season.
TCU is 44-3 when tied or leading after eight innings.
TCU’s pitching staff has a 1.58 ERA in the NCAA Tournament and its bullpen has allowed just four runs in the last 36.2 innings.
It was the 44th one-run game in the NCAA tournament; that’s the most in one post-season. Five of the seven CWS games this year have been decided by one run.
Virginia and Vanderbilt are both 2-0 thus far. Teams that have started 2-0 have won 30 of the last 33 CWS titles.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on facing an elimination game with Ole Miss Thursday night: “We bounce back pretty well. But having the day off certainly helps. But I'm confident. We're a resilient bunch, and we just so happened to lose a close one today. We'll be back ready to play Thursday night.”
TCU’s Kyle Bacak and the hitters’ frustration of hitting balls deep but not getting extra base hits or home runs: “What we kind of base our offense off is quality at-bats and hard contacts, quality at-bats. So for us, it's a win. Kevin (Cron) squared some balls. … Most places are extra base hits and maybe even home runs, something like that. But I think we hit a lot of balls hard. But as an offense, you can't dwell on it. You just have to keep pushing on.”
Schlossnagle on the lack of scoring and no home runs being hit in eight CWS games: “I've got to be careful here before I say some things about this ballpark that I'll regret. It's just a travesty what we've done to college baseball. … It’s frustrating. I don’t want it to sound like sour grapes, because if we had won the game, I’d be saying even more. It’s just disappointing what we’ve done to college baseball, with the bats and all."
TCU will face Ole Miss at 7p.m. Thursday in an elimination game.