For the second night in a row, the Horned Frog baseball team ran a marathon. TCU walked on the field in May and walked off in June after 22 innings at Lupton Stadium.
“I don’t even know what to say about that,” TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “That’s a shame somebody had to lose that game.”
All week long, Schlossnagle touted Saturday night’s game as the most important of the weekend. It was worth the wait.
Even if it lasted until Sunday.
The hero of Friday night’s 11-inning win over Siena, Boomer White had two hits, a steal and two RBIs, including the eventual game-winner, as TCU beat Sam Houston State 3-2 in the longest game in school history.
The Bearkats beat the Frogs earlier in the season, but that was in February before TCU hit its stride in conference play. Saturday night’s game would prove to be a lengthy rematch for the two teams.
In fact, it would be the second longest game in NCAA Baseball Championship history.
“I’m delirious right now,” Schlossnagle said.
Frogs center fielder Cody Jones opened the game with a double down the first-base line. The junior center fielder finished with two hits, one run and two walks.
Derek Odell and White then hit consecutive sacrifice grounders to get Jones across home plate, giving TCU a 1-0 lead.
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Preston Morrison got the start and didn’t fail to deliver, allowing only three hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings pitched.
That said, the Bearkats tested Morrison early by loading up the bases off two singles and a walk. Jones later ran into White in the outfield on a deep flier, allowing SHSU’s Hayden Simerly to score an unearned run off the dropped ball.
An interference call on a double play ended the inning to limit the damage for TCU.
SHSU pitcher Jason Simms got the start for the Bearkats and matched Morrison early on. The senior allowed only five hits and two runs Saturday night.
Simms also tied a career-high for strikeouts with seven.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until the top of the sixth.
Senior catcher Kyle Bacak made it to second off a walk and sacrifice bunt.
White then hit a single up the middle, but SHSU missed the throw to first base, allowing Bacak to score and take a 2-1 lead for TCU.
Kevin Cron came up to the plate before White stole third to a raucous applause from the fans. Cron couldn’t capitalize on White’s scoring position though, striking out to end the inning.
Continuing to secure their title as the ‘Go-Go’ Frogs, TCU stole two more bases in the win.
Morrison remained red hot throughout the game after the first inning. He didn’t allow another hit and no Bearkat made it to second base until the top of the eighth.
Three Frogs were caught at a high pop-up from SHSU Luke Plucheck and no one went for it, allowing Plucheck to reach second base. Sophomore Alex Young then entered the game as a relief pitcher.
A sacrifice bunt moved Plucheck to third and then Young hit Colt Atwood with a pitch. SHSU would later tie the game up at 2-2 with a sacrifice grounder from Simerly.
At the start of the ninth, Cron was fighting a 1-2 count. The junior from Arizona struck out, but a wild pitch allowed him to make it to first.
Crain then completed a sacrifice bunt to move Cron into scoring position. Suiter and Fitzgerald would strike out on the ensuing at-bats to end the inning, however.
Just like that, Young’s day was over as Schlossnagle pulled him for Trey Teakell heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Teakell wouldn’t come out until the top of the 15th.
The Bearkats kicked it off with contact right up the middle, but Teakell flexed his quick reflexes to get the first out. Teakell then struck out Corey Toups, but the wild pitch allowed him to reach first.
After a fielder’s choice, Teakell’s throw on a bunt was high, allowing runners to reach second and third. Odell got the crucial grounder when it was needed most though to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the tenth, SHSU relief pitcher Nolan Riggs walked Bacak after a fly-out from Keaton Jones. Cody Jones then struck out on the ensuing at-bat and Odell grounded out to end the inning.
Odell would finish the day with a paltry line of 0-for-10.
The Bearkats then went three up, three down in the bottom of the tenth.
As was the case Friday night, there was still plenty of baseball to play
Both teams had chances but neither could seem to do anything with their opportunities.
In the top of 17th, Suiter and a few other players put their bats in a pile and started pretending they were firewood.
“Trying to get hot bats,” Schlossnagle said. “Trying to start a fire. Who knows?”
All the Frogs needed was a little dose of fire.
We’d all have to keep waiting.
“Our crowd was phenomenal,” Schlossnagle said. “They really played a big part in the game.”
In the bottom of 20th, the Bearkats got on base with a leadoff single from Travis Lee. Lee later stole second, but Howard responded by striking out Atwood.
White then made a diving catch in left field to get the second out of the inning. A wild pitch from relief pitcher Brian Howard later moved Lee to third.
Brian Trieglaff then entered the game as TCU’s fifth relief pitcher following an intentional walk.
And it just kept going.
In the bottom of the 21st, Sam Houston State led off with a single from Carter Burgess. Burgess would eventually be at third with the bases loaded and one out in the inning.
The Frogs needed a double play when Lee hit a grounder to Jones. Plucheck was called for interference on the ensuing play while sliding hard into Crain, which sent the game into its 22nd inning.
He would later be ejected from the game for arguing the call and slamming his helmet on the ground. SHSU head coach David Pierce was also ejected from the game.
“I know two teams fought really hard,” Pierce said. “They just played 21 innings, busted their tails. The emotions were there.”
In the top of the 22nd, Keaton Jones was walked and then moved to second off a sacrifice bunt from Bacak. Cody Jones was later walked to get runners on first and second.
When the Frogs needed it most, Boomer White stepped up.
White faced a 3-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the 22nd when he hit a single through second and third base to give Keaton Jones the score as the Frogs took a 3-2 lead.
TCU’s seventh pitcher of the day, Riley Ferrell, entered in the bottom of the 22nd to close the game out.
He did just that and the Frogs won 3-2.
It only took 6 hours and 50 minutes and 593 total pitches.
With the loss, Sam Houston State will face Siena in a win-or-go-home situation.
The Frogs will have a chance to win the Fort Worth Regional against the winner of that game Sunday night.