It all comes down to Monday now.
Despite a postseason record crowd of 5,620 in attendance, early offensive struggles proved too much to overcome Sunday night as TCU baseball fell 3-2 to Pepperdine in the second game of the Fort Worth Super Regional.
“Great ballgame,” TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Well played game by both teams for the most part. We had our opportunities there and couldn’t push ‘em through.”
It was the first time the Frogs had lost in 10 games and their only loss of the postseason. TCU left eight runners on base in the loss.
Left-handed pitcher Aaron Brown started on the mound for the Waves. Brown, who also plays center field when not pitching, entered the contest with a 2.07 ERA and .306 batting average.
“When you’ve had a chance to coach him for three years, you see that on a daily basis,” Pepperdine head coach Steve Rodriguez said.
Despite serving double duty as a pitcher and hitter Sunday, Brown excelled on the mound. The WCC Pitcher of the Year allowed only five hits and zero runs in the win.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Rodriguez said. “That’s just the kind of athlete he is. I’ve just been very fortunate to watch it for three years.”
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Preston Morrison made the start for TCU and continued to be rock steady for most of the contest before faltering late. A native of Waxhaw, N.C., Morrison allowed five hits and three runs in the loss.
“I felt like my stuff was good, not my best,” Morrison said. “Definitely not my best command-wise today either.”
After a scoreless first inning, Kevin Cron got the Frogs’ first hit for the second day in a row. The 6-foot-5 giant hit a single in the top of the second to get his team on base.
Garrett Crain then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the ensuing at-bat before Jerrick Suiter followed suit with a groundout of his own to retire the side.
Brown batted fourth and got Pepperdine’s first hit of the game in the bottom of the second, a deep double to left field.
“To me, he’s the story of the game,” Schlossnagle said.
Morrison retired three straight after Brown’s double. His fifth out of the day broke a school record for innings pitched in a single season with 117.1.
Dylan Fitzgerald opened the top of the third with a deep double to left field. Keaton Jones then executed a near-perfect bunt and the ensuing throw to first went high, keeping him safe.
Cody Jones would be walked later on in the inning to load the bases, but two consecutive strikeouts left three runners stranded.
The first score of the game came in the bottom of the fifth.
Waves infielder Hutton Moyer led off with an infield single and made it to second off a sacrifice bunt. Brandon Caruso then singled deep to left field, allowing Moyer to score.
Morrison and the Frogs limited the damage, but still trailed 1-0 heading into the sixth.
Brown managed to keep TCU at bay until the top of the seventh. Bacak singled up the middle with one out to give the Frogs’ their fifth hit.
Unfortunately for the purple and white, Brown responded by retiring two straight to keep TCU off the board once again.
The Waves extended their lead in the bottom of the seventh after Manny Jefferson flew out with runners on second and third. Moyer scored on the play.
Brandon Caruso then hit a double to left field, scoring Jefferson to give Pepperdine a 3-0 lead.
Sophomore Alex Young then entered the game as a relief pitcher. He’d retire the side, but the damage was already done.
TCU managed to get White on base in the top of the eighth off a walk. A pair of throwing errors off a fielder’s choice from Crain then scored White to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Crain also reached third because of the miscues. Suiter scored Crain on the ensuing at-bat with a single.
Just like that, the rally was on as TCU trailed 3-2. Suiter would later steal second on the third and final strike from Fitzgerald.
Keaton Jones managed to get a single to center field, but Suiter was called out at home while attempting to leap over Barnett.
“That’s a chance for them to tie it up,” Brown said. “We were fortunate for Barney to make that play.”
Young kept Pepperdine off the board in the bottom of the eighth, but TCU couldn’t come up with the crucial tying run in the ninth.
“I don’t know what else we could’ve done,” Schlossnagle said.
With the loss, TCU now faces a must-win situation Monday afternoon against the Waves. The Frogs haven’t lost two in a row since March 30.
The winner of the game will move on to face Texas Tech Sunday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the College World Series.
First pitch for Monday night’s game has been changed from 6:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“I know we’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Schlossnagle said.