Improbable comeback gives TCU another home Super Regional

TCU players right before the dramatic win

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU center fielder Cody Jones and his teammates needed some time to process what was an improbable comeback.

The Frogs were down seven runs with two outs in the eighth inning and the season on the line.

“But you know, in the back of our heads, we’re like, we know this isn’t over,” Jones said Wednesday. “We know the magic that’s happened here before, and we know that there are just weird things that can happen here.”

A year after clinching their first home NCAA Super Regional and going to another College World Series after a ninth-inning suicide squeeze bunt play, the Horned Frogs (47-12) get to host another Super Regional. Their big rally Monday night gave them a 9-8 win over North Carolina State in 10 innings in the Fort Worth Regional final.

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Now Big 12 regular-season champion TCU, in its fifth Super Regional in seven seasons, play a best-of-three series against Texas A&M (49-12).

“Hey, this place is magical. I think you earn luck by working hard and things like that,” said Jones, one of five senior starters in the TCU lineup. “Some awesome things happen in this stadium, and some memories I’ll have forever. I don’t know what’s in store, but it could be pretty good.”

Game 1 is Saturday at Lupton Stadium.

Along with all those seniors, TCU has some freshmen and a few transfers, including seldom-used outfielder Evan Williams and backup infielder Elliott Barzilli. Williams started the 10th inning Monday night with a pinch-hit single and scored the game-winner on pinch-hitter Barzilli’s single.

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“I told them, as good as that felt, for you guys that haven’t been here, it pales in comparison to winning a series this weekend,” said 12th-year coach Jim Schlossnagle, whose Frogs are trying to get to Omaha for the third time in six years.

The Frogs were down 8-1 with two outs in the eighth, and senior shortstop Keaton Jones had an 0-2 count before drawing a walk. They went on to score six unearned runs, including runs on a bases-loaded walk, a balk and a passed ball.

Senior third baseman Derek Odell led off the ninth with a single, moved up on a sac bunt and then a balk before scoring as Keaton Jones reached on a passed ball after not initially realizing the umpire had called strike three on him.

“I honestly saw the whole season in a flash when I was running home,” Odell said.

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TCU got back on the field for practice Wednesday, a day after the Horned Frogs got some time to rest and attended a pool party hosted by Frogs football coach Gary Patterson.

“It was awesome, great guy, never had a chance to really talk to him,” said standout closer Riley Ferrell, an expected high draft pick next week. “He told me that in my position, that I’m like his cornerback, a cornerback might make nine out of 10 plays a game, but the one that he misses ends up being the one everybody looks at.”

Ferrell’s only two blown saves in his TCU career were in the Big 12 tournament last month, then in his next appearance. That was the winner’s bracket game Saturday night when Chance Shephard hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of North Carolina State’s 5-4 win.

When he came on in the eighth inning Monday night, Ferrell allowed four runs while facing only five batters.

As for what Patterson told him, “it’s pretty good advice, and it gives me confidence to keep moving on. …. Because we won, we get to go play.”