Aaron Schultz and Bryan Holaday each hit home runs off Texas All-American Chance Ruffin, while Kyle Winkler (12-1) pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 victory over Texas (50-13) to give TCU (51-12) their first NCAA College World Series berth Sunday.
Texas scored its only run (unearned) against Tyler Lockwood on a throwing error from second baseman Jerome Pena in the ninth inning.
The Frogs will play Florida State in the opening round of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. at Rosenblatt Stadium either June 19 or 20.
“I came to TCU seven years ago and this is the day you dream about,” said TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle. “We feel privileged to have a chance to go to Rosenblatt (Stadium) in it’s last year and we are really looking forward to it.
“Omaha is the pearly gates of our profession, it’s the pearly gates of college baseball. To be the first at something is incredibly special.that’s what we’ve been preaching for seven years of recruiting and it has finally come to fruition.”
Texas stranded 10 runners on base and failed to score an earned run on seven hits after a 14-1 Game 2 win Saturday, which forced Sunday’s elimination game. TCU took the first game of the series 3-1.
“It’s a devastating, gut wrenching, heartbreaking experience for the Longhorns,” Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido said. “These teams could play 100 games and it would end up 50 to 50.”
Texas third baseman Kevin Lusson said, “We made (Winkler) work, but we hit the ball right at people. I personally think the wrong team is going to Omaha.”
The TCU bench cleared out after the final out and bolted for the burnt orange and white-outlined Texas Longhorn symbol painted in center field and dog piled the University of Texas logo.
“Every team does that,” Lusson said. “Every team dog piles after they win the Super (Regional) except for us. They won so they can do whatever.”
Winkler and Texas starting pitcher Brandon Workman (12-2) matched each other pitch-for-pitch through four innings– both teams combined for five hits after four innings (TCU with two and Texas with three).
Texas first baseman Tant Shepherd hit a harmless grounder, but TCU shortstop Taylor Featherston sailed the ball over first baseman Matt Curry’s head to put Shepherd on second base. Featherston’s throw to first had been consistently high all series.
Winkler pitched his way out of trouble, striking out designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer to end the fourth inning.
Featherston knocked a line drive ball and doubled to right in the fifth inning, and Texas right fielder Kevin Keyes evened Featherston with his own throwing error, which allowed Featherston to advance to third base.
Frogs’ left fielder Jason Coats found a hole in the infield and ripped a 1-2 count RBI single to give TCU its first lead since Game 1, 1-0.
Winkler entered the sixth inning with renewed confidence after TCU gave him a lead, striking out Texas catcher Cameron Rupp and coaxing a ground ball out from Keyes. Lusson hit a fly ball to center for the third out of the inning.
“My biggest key for today was to try and keep the ball down and get ahead of hitters,” Winkler said. “As long as you get ahead of any good team you can get them guessing a little bit.”
Ruffin, who gave up as many home runs Sunday (two) as he did all season, replaced Workman in the sixth inning. The All-American entered the game with the best ERA per nine innings (0.75).
Workman (3.35 ERA) allowed four hits and one run in five innings pitched.
Ruffin walked Featherston with one out in the seventh inning. Ruffin fanned Coats for an out, but Schultz battled back from a 0-2 count to jack a 2-RBI home run out to put TCU up 3-0.
Schultz’s defense was equally as impressive as his hitting in the eighth inning, when he ran down a fly ball to center and made an over-the-shoulder grab to keep Texas from manufacturing a scoring situation.
“I was so pumped up from my homerun,” Schultz said. “I felt like a million bucks out there even though my body was worn down from the season and the hot weather. I felt like I was flying out there, to be honest.”
Tyler Lockwood (1.97 ERA) replaced Winkler with two outs in the eighth inning; Winkler allowed five hits and had six strikeouts, but Schlossnagle felt that after 112 pitches, Winkler was throwing the ball a little bit higher in the strike-zone.
“I thought I may have made the most monumental mistake in the programs history taking out Winkler,” Schlossnagle said.
Texas scored it’s only run on TCU’s second error of the game in the ninth inning, but Keyes hit a harmless grounder for the final out of the game.
“That’s going to be my message to the team, ‘take it all in,'” Schlossnagle said. “But if there’s anything better than (winning the Austin Super Regional), it’s certainly (winning a national championship).”