After being blanked by Vanderbilt starter Phil Pfeifer on Tuesday, the TCU Horned Frogs said they were confident that they could make their way out of the loser’s bracket in their rematch against the Commodores on Friday night.
But the Frogs ran into another Vanderbilt starter, Walker Buehler, who the Frogs could never figure out, and an offense, whose bats were able to give the Commodores a 7-1 lead that they would never surrender.
Friday’s 7-1 loss to Vanderbilt eliminates TCU from the College World Series, and sends Vanderbilt to the championship series against the winner of Saturday’s Virginia vs. Florida game.
Vanderbilt’s Buehler was able to keep TCU hitters off balance all night. The one run for the Frogs came in the seventh inning when they were able to string a couple hits together after a walk, but the Commodores had seven-run cushion the Frogs were never able to overcome.
Buehler went 6 2/3 innings, during which he only allowed one run on four hits. The junior right-hander was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s all night and was successful in getting TCU batters to chase it as he struck eight batters while only walking one.
TCU shortstop Keaton Jones said that Buehler’s performance was one where you, “just gotta tip your hat to that guy.”
“He was attacking with all his pitches and throwing them for strikes.” Jones said. “He was tough. It wasn’t he was throwing it down the middle hitting his spots in and out and throwing his breaking ball on the corners as well. For us, I think we were just trying to attack his fastball. But it was tough. He was pitching well.”
The Horned Frogs’ pitchers weren’t able to figure out Vanderbilt’s offense either.
TCU starting pitcher Tyler Alexander only went 2 1/3 innings for the Frogs as he gave up seven hits and three runs.
The first inning was the beginning of the sophomore’s trouble on the mound. He began the first by walking the lead off batter, Ro Coleman and hitting the No. 2 hitter, Rhett Wiseman in the neck when he squared to bunt.
It looked like Alexander may get out of the first scot-free after he struck out Dansby Swanson and got Zander Wiel to pop out, but the Commodores weren’t done. With two outs and runners on first and second, Bryan Reynolds was able to deliver with an RBI single to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
Vanderbilt then was the able to plate two runs in the third, fourth and fifth inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Commodores hit four consecutive singles by Wiseman, Swanson, Wiel and Reynolds to score two more runs and take a 3-0 lead.
The Commodores were able to plate two more runs in the fourth inning with a two-run home run by Wiseman that sailed over TCU’s bullpen and into the seats in rightfield to put Vanderbilt up 5-0.
To begin the fifth inning, Reynolds lead off with a triple, then was driven in by a single by Will Toffey. Vanderbilt left fielder Jeren Kendall would then reach on a single of his own before he would steal second base and then advance to third on a throwing error by Evan Skoug. Jason Delay would then drive in Kendall with a sacrifice fly ball to center field to put the Commodores up 7-0.
After the loss, TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle congratulated Vanderbilt on the win.
“I mean, that’s the way tournament baseball goes and a lot of things have to go into winning a tournament,” Schlossnagle said. “That’s what it is. It’s never about the best team. It’s the team that plays the best. And I think Vanderbilt has a heck of a team and they’re certainly playing as good as anybody in the country right now. But we felt like we were good enough to play with them. We just didn’t play as well as they did today.”
But Schlossnagle also praised his own team and said that they need to put the loss into perspective, as their super fan, Micah Ahern, is going through cancer treatment.
“Just told them that I’m proud of them and there’s no bad days in Omaha,” Schlossnagle said. “Today’s still a heck of a lot better day than Micah had today. And as we’ve done all season we’re going to keep this in perspective for what it is.”