TCU had won 10 consecutive games and 31 of its last 34 games and needed just one more win over West Coast Conference champion Pepperdine on Sunday to close out its Super Regional series and advance on to the College World Series. The Horned Frogs still need one more win to advance, but that will have to happen on Monday, if at all, after dropping a 3-2 decision to Pepperdine at TCU on Sunday.
An eighth-inning rally by TCU fell short when Pepperdine center fielder Aaron Brown gunned down TCU”s Jerrick Suiter at the plate with what would have been the tying run. Suiter had singled, one of his two hits in the game, advanced to second with a stolen base, and was attempting to score from second on a single by shortstop Keaton Jones.
TCU scored twice in the eighth frame, but the put out at the plate on Suiter ended the rally one run short. Pepperdine had scored two runs of its own in the top half of the inning to go out in front by a score of 3-0.
What’s even more interesting about that game-saving assist is that Brown started the game on the mound and went the first seven innings. He didn’t give up a run (and prevented another with his strike to the plate in the eighth) and allowed just five hits in the seven innings he worked.
Right-handed starter Preston Morrison, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, took the loss for the Horned Frogs. It was his fourth loss of the season to go with nine wins. The junior right-hander was charged with all three Pepperdine runs on just five hits, and he struck out six.
“Aaron Brown was obviously outstanding all over the field,” Jim Schlossnagle, TCU head coach, said in a postgame interview session. “T me, he is the story of the game. As (Texas) coach (Augie) Garrido says, ‘Sometimes when you lose, it’s not your fault.’ I think it’s more about Aaron Brown today than anything else.”
The TCU loss in the second game of its super-regional battle with the Wave from Pepperdine sets up a deciding third game on Monday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
Freshman left-hander Tyler Alexander, the Horned Frogs’ best pitcher by winning percentage and second on the team with an ERA of 1.94, draws the start in the deciding game in the series. Alexander has pitched big all season for TCU despite his first-year status. Pepperdine will go with right-handed starter Jackson McCullough, who has an 8-3 season record and a 3.53 ERA.
TCU is the host school in this super regional, but by virtue of a coin flip, the Horned Frogs will be the visiting team in Monday’s series finale.
TCU has been to the College World Series just once, in 2010. The Horned Frogs lost in the semifinal round to UCLA. Pepperdine is seeking a birth in the College World Series for the third time in its history despite 28 NCAA appearances.