Baseball is often described as a game of inches, and the home opener for the Horned Frogs baseball team was no exception.After two ejections, one home run and an unlikely hero to cap off the evening, TCU pulled out a thrilling 6-5 victory against the Dallas Baptist University Patriots in a 12-inning marathon.
The Frogs (3-1) started out the evening with sloppy fielding after committing four errors in the first four innings, as the team found its way on the wrong end of a 5-0 deficit and digging into its bullpen.
Senior reliever Donald Furrow came into the game with two outs and a runner on third base, and the game took an emotional turn after he retired the first Patriots (3-1) batter he faced.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, frustrations with home plate umpire Dale Luker became too much for senior right fielder Austin Adams. Adams was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with Luker after he struck out, and then head coach Jim Schlossnagle gave his two cents to Luker and soon found his way out of the game.
“I was protecting Austin,” Schlossnagle said. “If anyone gets tossed, it’d best me rather than a player.”
After the pair were sent to showers, a sign of life came from the Horned Frogs as senior center fielder Keith Conlon took the next pitch over the 400-foot sign in center field for a home run to put TCU on the board.
During the middle innings, Furrow continued to mow down the Patriots with four scoreless innings. He struck out five Dallas Baptist batters as TCU’s offense continued to chip away at the DBU lead.
“Furrow did a great job at keeping us in the game,” junior catcher Andrew Walker said. “He was easy to catch, we threw change ups away and then fastballs to catch them in their big looping swings.”
In the eighth, TCU finally drew even with the Patriots after a clutch single from junior first baseman Matt Carpenter.
Conlon started the inning with a single up the middle and then stole second base. Carpenter’s single through the right side of the infield put Conlon across the plate.
Conlon finished the evening with two hits and three runs scored.
“He’s carried us and is the best player on the field every game so far,” Schlossnagle said.
After the late inning heroics by Carpenter and Conlon, the game became a test of wills between the Horned Frogs and the Patriots as junior TCU closer Sam Demel sought out redemption for his blown save opportunity last weekend.
Demel struck out six batters in his 2 2-3 innings of work before the Horned Frogs finally ended the evening on a trick play orchestrated by Schlossnagle and executed by Walker and sophomore designated hitter Matt McGuirk.
“We ran the stink play, which is like a double steal used to spook a left-handed pitcher,” Schlossnagle said.
Both TCU runners broke from their bases, and DBU freshman reliever Ryan Millard panicked and made a low throw toward the plate as Walker slid past the DBU catcher.
“I’m surprised they ran the play with me because I’m not the quickest guy on the team,” Walker said.