No. 2 TCU Edges No. 3 San Diego State, 16-15, After Wild Ninth
May 24, 2012
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Both the San Diego State and TCU baseball teams proved one thing on Thursday afternoon; neither will ever quit.
In one of the most thrilling games in Mountain West Championship history, the No. 2 seed Horned Frogs emerged with an exhilarating 16-15 victory over the No. 3 seed Aztecs in Game One of the 2012 MW Baseball Championship at Earl E. Wilson Stadium in Las Vegas. Trailing by 10 runs entering the ninth, 14-4, SDSU posted a furious 11-run comeback, only to see TCU plate two in the bottom of the ninth and escape with a victory in the tournament's opening game.
TCU's Stefan Crichton (8-2) earned the win after coming on to finally end the Aztec rally in the ninth. The right-hander did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning. In all, the Horned Frogs saw four different pitchers work in the ninth. SDSU's Justin Hepner (4-3) took the loss after giving up a pair of runs in the Horned Frog ninth.
San Diego State got the scoring started early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first. Greg Allen led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on Tim Zier's sacrifice ground out to first. After Chris Wilson struck out, Ryan Muno singled up the middle, plating Allen from second.
TCU countered with three runs in the second. Jantzen Witte led off with a single, advancing to third on Jerrick Suitor's one-out triple. Derek Odell followed with a single to center, plating Witte and knotting the score at one apiece. With Suitor at third and Odell at first, Aztec starter Cole Swanson balked, allowing the Horned Frogs' second run to score and putting Odell into scoring position. After Brance Rivera struck out, Keaton Jones came through with a two-out single to score Odell and make it 3-1 TCU.
The Aztecs bounced back in the fourth with three runs of their own. After Horned Frogs starter Brandon Finnegan gave up a hit and a walk to open the inning, right-hander Trey Teakell came on to pitch for TCU. Teakell walked the first batter he faced before giving up a bases-clearing triple to Jomel Torres, giving the Aztecs a 4-3 lead.
TCU reclaimed the lead in the fifth on Kevin Cron's long home run to left that scored three runs. The freshman took an 0-2 pitch from Swanson and hammered it over the fence, just to the right of the scoreboard at Earl E. Wilson Stadium. The Frogs would go on to score what appeared to be key insurance runs, scoring three in the sixth and five in the seventh. Little did anyone know what the Aztecs had in store for the ninth.
SDSU scored 11 times in the ninth, all before the second out was recorded. Jake Romanski opened the inning with a double and scored on Torres' homer to left. After Dillon Bryant grounded out to the pitcher, Allen and Zier reached on back-to-back infield singles and came around to score on Chris Wilson's three-run homer to left, making the score, 14-9 TCU. The next batter, Ryan Muno, reached on a throwing error before Spencer Thornton was hit by a pitch. Matt Munoz followed with a double, plating Muno and advancing Thornton to third. Jake Romanski followed with a single to left, scoring Thornton and making it 14-11 in favor of the Frogs. Torres was then hit by a pitch before Bryant reached on a fielder's choice in which all runners were ruled safe, loading the bases for the Aztecs. TCU pitcher Justin Scharf followed with a wild pitch, allowing Romanski to score and moving the other runners up to second and third respectively. The leadoff man Allen was then intentionally walked to once again load the bases for SDSU. At that time, Horned Frogs manager Jim Schlossnagle called upon Crichton to enter the game. After allowing a two-run single to Zier, Crichton was able to retire Muno and Thornton to officially end the Aztec ninth.
TCU did not quit, however. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Kyle Von Tungeln homered to right, tying the score at 15 apiece. Davy Wright followed Von Tungeln with a single and advanced to third on a Josh Gonzales double. SDSU elected to walk Witte to load the bases, before surrendering a walk-off single to Brett Johnson, making the final score 16-15, TCU.
TCU will face the winner of No. 1 New Mexico vs. No. 4 UNLV at 7 p.m. PT on Friday, May 25. San Diego State takes on the loser of UNM/UNLV at 3 p.m. PT on Friday in an elimination game.
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