TCU 360: Toads to Omaha, TCU clinches College World Series spot with incredible comeback

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The TCU Horned Frog baseball team is headed to Omaha.

In the third and final game of the Fort Worth Super Regional, the Frogs proved too tough to kill, rallying from a one-run deficit in the ninth inning to win 6-5 and clinch a spot in the 2014 College World Series.

Who said baseball is boring?

"I've been here for three years and the guys I've been here with, that's all we've ever talked about," first baseman Kevin Cron said.

"We put in the work, 7 a.m. workouts in the fall, and everything we do is to lead up to this point. So, so happy to be a part of it."

Senior catcher Kyle Bacak capped his final game in Lupton Stadium with the game-winning suicide squeeze. The Katy, Texas native went 2-for-2 on the day and had two RBIs.

Due to a coin flip made prior to the tournament, TCU wore purple and played in Lupton Stadium as the visitor for the second day in a row.

They sure celebrated like the home team when it was all said and done. Fireworks and all.

"They're a national seed for a reason," Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez said. "The better team won. They did."

After beating TCU with his arm on more than one occasion Sunday, Pepperdine center fielder/pitcher Aaron Brown proved to be a thorn in TCU’s side once again. He had three hits and two RBIs for the Waves.

"Can everybody here confirm that Aaron Brown will not be in Omaha?" TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "I'll sleep better if that's the case. What a great, great player."

Freshman Tyler Alexander started at pitcher during the Frogs’ Big 12 title win over Oklahoma State and regional-clinching victory over Sam Houston State. He was back on the mound Monday in TCU’s most important game of the year.

Unlike his previous two starts though, Alexander wouldn’t be on the mound by game’s end.

TCU center fielder Cody Jones opened the game with a single to right field.

Jones, who has a Big 12-high 28 steals this season, then stole second on a dropped pitch.

Boomer White grounded out on the ensuing at-bat, which moved Jones to third. A foul ball from Cron then popped up and into the hands of Pepperdine catcher Aaron Bartnett to strand Jones at third.

Jones would be the first of many as the Frogs left 13 on base.

Pepperdine’s Brandon Caruso opened the bottom of the first with a deep triple past the glove of TCU right fielder Dylan Fitzgerald.

Brown hit a single through the right side to score Caruso and give the Waves a 1-0 lead.

TCU tied it up in the top of the second off a two-out single from Bacak with runners on first and second.

The Waves responded in a big way as Caruso hit a two-out, two-run homer to give Pepperdine a 3-1 lead. Alexander allowed five hits and three runs in his first two innings pitched.

A single from Bacak put runners on the corners in the top of the fourth and Odell was walked later in the inning to load the bases with two outs.

AJ Puckett then entered the game as a relief pitcher for the Waves. Jackson McClelland, who made the start for Pepperdine, walked four and allowed five hits and a run in 3.2 innings pitched.

Facing a full count, White struck out at the plate to strand three more. He started 0-for-9 during the super regional after winning Fort Worth Regional MVP last week.

After a leadoff single from Hutton Moyer in the top of the fourth, Jordan Kipper entered as a relief pitcher. He’d strike out two of three to retire the side.

In the top of the fifth, Cron came to the plate and smashed one past the outfield wall to give the Frogs their first home run at Lupton since May 9. The homer also cut Pepperdine’s lead to 3-2.

"I said something to Coach Etheridge before the game: 'Cron's gonna be big today,'" Schlossnagle said.

Not to be outdone, Brown hit a homer of his own in the bottom of the fifth to bring the score back up to 4-2.

White finally broke his hitting streak in the top of the sixth, driving in a two-out single. Cron then drilled a double down the left field line to keep TCU’s hopes alive, tying the game at 4-4.

Cron finished the afternoon with two RBIs.

With a runner already on first, Brown drilled a double into the outfield wall in the bottom of the eighth.

"That's all you can ask for," Rodriguez said. "I mean, shoot, our superman comes up and hits a laser off the wall."

Schlossnagle then brought out Kipper and put in star closer Riley Ferrell.

Pepperdine’s Brad Anderson flew out to right field, but it allowed Bryan Langlois to score.

Heading to the top of the ninth, TCU trailed 5-4 and needed a little more magic to keep its season alive.

"[The mood in the locker room] almost didn't change," Cron said. "We were fired up all day long."

Crain and Suiter hit consecutive singles to open the ninth inning before Fitzgerald came up with the hit of the game, a deep double to right field that tied the game up once again.

"It's kind of the story of our season," Cron said. "Someone finds a way to get it done when it matters."

Bacak later executed a perfect suicide squeeze to score Crain and give TCU its first lead of the day, the winning run.

"I knew if we got another run for Riley [Ferrell], he was going to shut the door," Bacak said.

Once again, the Frogs looked to Ferrell to close it out.

He did just that, retiring three of five batters to save the game.

"When I got that first strike, I knew it was gonna be over," Ferrell said.

With the win, TCU clinches a spot in the College World Series for the second time ever. They’ll face Texas Tech in the opening round on Sunday at 2 p.m. 

What a game.

To read more, visit www.tcu360.com.

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