OMAHA, Neb. – It looked like TCU’s magical College World Series run would end Wednesday evening, but Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium exploded at the crack of the bat in the eighth inning as Matt Curry hit a moon-shot grand slam over the center field wall to lead TCU to a 11-7 comeback win over Florida State.
The Horned Frogs, on life support and down 7-3 in the eighth inning, exploded for eight runs off Curry’s 18th home run of the season and Jantzen Witte’s fourth homer of the season.
“They did a great job of getting not only back into the ball game but had a big inning that basically we just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” said Florida State head baseball coach Mike Martin. “If anyone knows a more humbling game than baseball, I guess it’s lining up your fourth putt.
“But this one is one that was certainly humbling.”
TCU will face UCLA in the Bracket 1 Final Friday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2. It will be another elimination game for the Frogs.
FSU gifted TCU with five errors, but Steven Maxwell lasted the exact same number of outs, 2 2/3 innings, as Kyle Winkler managed against UCLA in Monday’s loss. TCU pitcher Kaleb Parker would receive the win, his fourth of the season, while FSU’s Mike McGee received his first loss of the season.
Maxwell gave up six hits, four earned runs and no walks on 55 pitches for the night.
Center fielder Aaron Schultz hit a ground ball to FSU All-American Stephen Cardullo-he bobbled the ball and was charged an error to get Schultz to first.
Frogs’ right fielder Brance Rivera hit a line shot to center to put runners on the corners for TCU win no outs.
TCU second baseman Jerome Pena’s patience at the plate was rewarded after the ninth pitch of his at-bat in unexpected fashion. Gast sailed a pick-off pitch to first base to bring Schultz home from second base; it was FSU’s third error in three innings to cut the Seminoles lead to 2-1.
“You can’t give a team more outs in an inning than they should (have), “FSU catcher Rafael Lopez said. “They did a great job of capitalizing. That’s the difference in the game.”
Pena struck-out after an 11-pitch at-bat, but TCU scored an unearned run and advanced Rivera to third base in the process. Curry knocked a RBI single to center field to bring Holaday home to even the game 2-2.
FSU’s James Ramsey knocked a RBI triple to the right field wall to retake the lead, 3-2 for the Seminoles. Cardullo hit another RBI groundball base hit to Featherston to give FSU their second two-run lead of the game.
FSU All-American Tyler Holt hit a single just past Pena’s glove to get to first base in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lockwood walked Johnson to put two men on base with no outs. McGee laid a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third.
Lockwood intentionally walked Ramsey to load the bases up with one out. Cardullo hit a RBI sacrifice fly to right to put FSU up 5-2.
FSU first baseman Jayce Boyd knocked what seemed to be the kill-shot–a two RBI double into the gap to extend the lead to 7-2 for the Seminoles.
TCU’s CWS ride was running on fumes-Maxwell and Lockwood combined to give up 10 hits and seven runs to FSU through six innings.
Pena hit a solo home run to right field to cut the lead to 7-3 in the seventh. After Holaday struck-out on a full count, Coats reached base on FSU’s fourth error of the game.
TCU pitcher Erik Miller replaced Lockwood in the bottom of the seventh; Lockwood pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up four hits and three earned runs.
Witte reached first base on FSU’s fifth error of the game; a Geoff Parker wild pitch advanced Witte to second. Featherston beat out a groundball to put runners on the corners. Rosenblatt’s 22,541 came alive for TCU’s potential come back with two runners on and no outs.
With a 2-2 count for Rivera, Parker exited after feeling a pop in his elbow. FSU’s two-way player and All-American Mike McGee, moved from left field to the pitching mound.
Rivera hit a groundball to bring a run in to bring TCU within three runs of FSU.
Holaday came on as the tying man at the plate. Holaday’s double off the left field wall put Coats as the go-ahead run at the plate.
Gilmartin walked Coats to load the bases up for Curry. With a full-count and almost every fan on their feet, Curry hit a ball off the bat that looked like a deep fly ball to center-Holt appeared to camp under the ball, but it went over the center field wall. Curry’s grand slam put TCU up 9-7.
“Definitely the biggest home run of my career,” Curry said. “When I hit it, I knew it was gone…I looked back out there and he’s camped underneath it. My heart sank in my stomach. I’m like, there’s no way this ball’s not leaving.
“I just happened to look up, and that’s when I got fired up again. But it was awesome.”
Added TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle: “I almost dropped to my knees in tears when I saw (Holt) camped under that ball. (Holt) is a great player. He was obviously hoping maybe it hit the fence and he could keep somebody from scoring. I did not see the ball go out of the park. I just saw Holt not catch it.”
FSU pitcher Hunter Scantling replaced Gilmartin, and Witte jacked a two RBI shot just under the scoreboard for his fourth home run of the year. The comeback continued.
TCU’s Kaleb Merck came into the ball game in the eighth inning for TCU.
FSU started its own rally in the bottom half of the inning. Johnson came up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out; Merck fanned him. On a 2-2 count with the bases loaded, McGee slapped a drifting liner to Pena to end the inning.
Merck, TCU’s fourth pitcher, and tenth pitcher of the game overall, would close the game for the Frogs in a no-save situation.