It only took three batters for North Carolina State to crush the dreams of fans at Lupton Stadium on Sunday, but it wasn’t so hard to swallow when the Frogs were winning by six runs.
Sophomore Tyler Alexander worked six perfect innings in the Frogs’ 8-2 win over the Wolfpack on Sunday night. Hopes of a perfect game, no-hitter and shutout were erased after a single followed a Keaton Jones error to start the seventh, but the most important thing for the Frogs: they get to play again tomorrow.
TCU faced elimination twice on Sunday. The Frogs defeated Stony Brook 8-3 earlier in the afternoon to make it to Sunday night’s rematch against NC State. After a 2-out, 2-run homer in the ninth inning to NC State’s Chance Shepard stole a win from TCU last night, the Frogs bounced back with 12 hits and eight runs to back Alexander’s stellar night on the mound.
The Frogs will now face NC State one more time on Monday. The winner advances to the super regional tournament next weekend.
“Obviously a good day for the Frogs,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “It was fun to be in our dugout all day long.”
Alexander gave up just two runs (one earned) on three hits, no walks and six strikeouts en route to his sixth win of the season.
“I’m not the type of pitcher to blow you away,” Alexander said of the perfect game through six. “If they get hits, they get hits. If they don’t, they don’t.”
Even more important: Schlossnagle was able to save his bullpen. Key relievers Trey Teakell and Riley Ferrell will be available for Monday’s tiebreaker game against NC State.
“It’s big in every possible way,” Schlossnagle said of Alexander’s performance.
Third baseman Derek Odell’s two hits and three RBIS led TCU on offense. But the senior, who said he has been putting in extra defensive work at practice, also made a few great plays in the field.
“Being as elderly as we are, we all have a lot of experience in a lot of different ways,” Odell said. “You can never count us out, and that’s something we take pride in.”
By way of coin toss, the Frogs were actually the visiting team in the two matchups despite playing at Lupton Stadium. The team seemed to embrace the opportunity.
“[Schlossnagle] said he was glad we were the visiting team,” Odell said. “It was huge to score first.”
TCU will take on NC State in a winner-take-all match at 7:05 p.m. on Monday at Lupton Stadium. Junior Alex Young will get the ball for the Frogs.
“I like our chances, but NC State has a really good team,” Schlossnagle said. “Should be a fun night.”
Catcher Evan Skoug led off the inning by pulling a ball through the right side for a single. Right fielder Nolan Brown added a looping single down the third base line, and the two runners advanced when NC State left fielder bobbled the ball. With two outs and a full count, Odell poked a single to right field to give the Frogs a 2-0 lead.
The Frogs looked like they might not make the most of a golden opportunity, but left fielder Dane Steinhagen came through for the Frogs. Second baseman Garrett Crain and center fielder Cody Jones led off the inning with two singles. First baseman Jeremie Fagnan followed with a single of his own to score Crain and give the Frogs a 3-0 lead. With two on and nobody out, NC State starting pitcher Ryan Williamson got designated hitter Connor Wanhanen and Skoug on a strikeout and a popout. But Steinhagen knocked a 1-1
Williamson offering down the first base line for a triple, giving the Frogs a 5-0 lead.
The Frogs missed out on a big chance to bust the game open. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Crain scored on a wild pitch to make it a 6-0 TCU lead.
It would be all the Frogs would get, as Wanhanen struck out looking before Cody Jones was thrown out at the plate on a Skoug grounder. A walk loaded the bases with two outs for Brown, but he was sat down swinging to end the threat.
An error and a single gave the Wolfpack runners on first and third with no outs. NC State’s Preston Palmeiro scored the runner on third with a sacrifice fly to right field, but it was all the Wolfpack would muster as Alexander worked out of the inning.
Brown led off the inning with a single through the left side and moved to third on a Keaton Jones sacrifice bunt. Odell laced a single to right field to score Brown and make it 7-1 TCU, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double on the throw.
A popout would end the inning for TCU.
Cody Jones led off the inning with a single and a stolen base. The next two batters were retired, but Skoug smoked one off the right field wall to double and score Jones and extend the Frogs’ lead to 8-1.
NC State’s Logan Ratledge led off the inning with a line drive home run over the left field wall to make it 8-2. Alexander got the next three batters to finish out the game.