TCU reaches Fort Worth Regional Finals, Dallas Baptist survives

FORT WORTH - After a rain delayed start to the Fort Worth Regional, action continued on Sunday with two games on the slate.

In the opening contest, Dallas Baptist knocked out Central Connecticut State 6-5 in a nail biter.

CCSU got things going early, with an RBI single courtesy of designated hitter Mitch Guilmette. Staked to a lead, Blue Devils starter Mike Appel went to work. He kept DBU scoreless in the first, but after a goose egg in the second by CCSU the Patriots wanted some of that action.

A pair of home runs from Matt Duce and Cameron Duzenack gave DBU three runs and the lead. The Patriot Homer Party continued in the third inning, after first baseman Austin Listi launched a no doubt shot on the second pitch in the at bat 

That’d be it for Appel, who would give way to reliever Ron Grant after just three innings and four earned runs. Grant slapped a tourniquet on the baseball bleeding, giving his offense the chance to wake up. CCSU got two runs off DBU starter MD Johnson in the 5th, before following it up with an RBI double from first baseman TT Bowens in the 6th.

That brought Johnson’s residency on the Lupton mound to a close, with Seth Elledge coming on in relief. Duzenack gave his new pitcher an assist with a sliding stop at shortstop, firing to first for a crucial second out. Elledge got a strikeout to end the inning and the threat at 5-4.

CCSU had another chance against Elledge in the 8th, but gave up an out on a sacrifice bunt before a Nick Landell fielder’s choice put the runner on third. Elledge struck out second baseman Dean Lockery for the third out, leaving the tying run 90 feet away.

The Patriots picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the 9th,  on another blast to dead center from left fielder Devlin Granberg. It was Granberg’s first hit of the day after a strikeout, flyout, and groundout in his previous three plate appearances. DBU took a 6-4 lead to the top of the 9th.

DBU head coach Dan Heefner relied on Elledge to save his team’s season. CCSU third baseman Ryan Costello singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then came home after a Guilmette single making the score 6-5. The rally was on.

Then it wasn’t.

Despite Chris Kanios’ efforts as a pinch runner, swiping second it was for naught as Buddy Dewaine struck out looking to end the game along with the season of the Blue Devils.

The win sends DBU onto another elimination game later Sunday night, awaiting the loser of Game 2’s showdown between TCU and Virginia.

Players of the game

-For DBU, it was the Austin Listi show. The 23 year old senior first baseman had a great day, mashing two homers and a walk in his four times at the plate. The second homer came as Listi was down in the count, but battled back to give the Patriots their offense.

-CCSU was led by third baseman Ryan Costello. He walked his first two times at the plate, the second walk coming after MD Johnson got ahead of him. His last two at bats were first pitch singles. He score three runs to go along with his three hits.

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In a rain delayed game 2, TCU advanced to the Regional Final with a 5-1 win over Virginia.

The offense was light for both squads until the 2nd inning. Center fielder Nolan Brown doubled to lead off before third baseman Elliot Barzilli and first baseman Connor Wanhanen both grounded into fielder’s choice. That brought Brown home giving TCU a 1-0 lead.

After the Frogs pulled off a 6-4-3 double play to end the Cavaliers’ threat in the bottom half of the inning, TCU went to work. Shortstop Ryan Merrill singled leading off the 3rd inning. Right fielder Austin Wade also singled, with Merrill advancing to 3rd on the play. Designated Zach Humphreys rolled over on one to shortstop, but the throw was errant. All Frogs were safe, including the one that made the score 2-0.

That was the opening TCU needed.

Catcher Evan Skoug doubled, which would score Wade. Humphreys attempted to score, but a throw from right fielder Cameron Simmons caught Humphrey between third and home. With the score 3-0, another throwing error from UVA shortstop Ernie Clement put Brown on second and Skoug across the plate.

That spelled the end for Cavs starter Daniel Lynch. Reliever Alec Bettinger came in, struck out Barzilli, shutting down the threat.

Both teams would trade baserunners through the middle innings. Bettinger held TCU in check, a stretch that included four 1-2-3 innings in a row.

Then the eighth came along.

Bettinger’s biggest trouble all night came in the top of the 8th. Austen Wade walked after a nine pitch at bat, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Wade would go to third when Humphreys grounded into a fielder’s choice. UVA intentionally walked Skoug, before he advanced on a wild pitch also.

Cam Warner put the ball in play in the form of a ground ball. The throw came home, nabbing a speeding Wade for the second out. After a Warner steal of second, Brown walked to load the bases. It was all for naught however, as Bettinger got Barzilli to ground out ending the threat.

Bettinger would go on to give UVA their best chance at clawing back in. He threw five and a third no hit innings, before being pulled in the ninth after giving up his first hit of the night. He was relieved by Bennett Sousa, who gave up another run after loading the bases with one out.

Despite TCU’s offensive outburst, the game morphed into the Jared Janczak show as it progressed. TCU’s starting pitcher went on a rampage, keeping the Cavaliers to one run while mixing in six strikeouts against only five hits. He lasted eight innings, before walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth and giving way to closer Durbin Feltman.

Feltman did his job, closing the game out for the Frogs, striking out the side and locking them into Monday’s Regional Final game.

The Monday schedule later this afternoon sees Virginia taking on DBU in an elimination game at 2 PM. The winner of that game gets TCU at 7PM. Should TCU lose, the deciding game of the Regional would be played Tuesday.

Players of the game

-For TCU, their starter Jared Janczak gets the nod. An eight inning, one run outing under 100 pitches while helping the Frogs get one win away from a berth in the Super Regionals.

-UVA’s standout is reliever Alec Bettinger, who relieved Daniel Lynch after giving up four of TCU’s five runs. He threw five and a third one run innings only allowing 1 hit with four strikeouts, giving the Cavaliers a chance to get back in the game by minimizing the damage. 

Rooting on a return to Omaha for the Horned Frogs? Follow Samuel on Twitter @thesamuelhale for the latest. 

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