TCU unable to claim MWC Baseball Championship title
The Ellis County Press
For the second year in a row TCU hosted the Mountain West Conference Baseball Championship tournament in Fort Worth.
This year the Frogs welcomed in Brigham Young University (BYU), The University of New Mexico, The University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV), San Diego State University (SDSU) and The University of Utah.
TCU entered the tournament No. 1 in the conference and faced No. 6 Utah on Wednesday. Although ranked No. 6, the Utes still posed plenty of a threat to the top-seeded Horned Frogs.
When TCU and Utah last met during the regular season, the Horned Frogs battled their way to two victories due to the fact that Utah never gives up when they are behind.
Utah delivered just the kind of performance necessary to hand TCU a 9-7 loss, which marked the first time a No. 6 seeded team has knocked off a No. 1 seeded team in the history of the MWC baseball tournament.
2,112 fans watched helplessly as Utah put up a six-run fourth inning with a total of 15 hits in the match-up.
Red Oak High School product Matt Curry went 1-5 for the game with a single up the middle in the third inning.
Luckily for Matt, his appearances in TCU’s next two games faired much better.
After being stunned by Utah, TCU next faced BYU, with the loser of that game facing elimination from the tournament.
Apparently the loss to Utah was enough to wake-up the Frogs.
Freshmen pitcher Kyle Winkler pitched his first-ever complete game to hold the Cougars to only two runs.
Winkler had no walks, struck out six and only allowed 11 hits in the outing.
Following Winkler’s lead, the TCU offense pounded out 10 hits and garnered nine runs to send BYU home with a final score of 9-2.
Matt Curry went 2-4 with a 2 RBI single up the middle in the second inning and a single to center field in the seventh.
Curry’s two-run single in the second inning put the Frogs up 2-0 and they were able to score two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
First baseman Matt Vern stunned the Cougars and the crowd in the seventh inning.
After stealing third base, Vern then successfully stole home to put the Frogs up 5-0.
Catcher Bryan Holaday made the score 6-0 with a RBI single to center field that scored right fielder Chris Ellington.
Vern then homered his next time at bat with two on base to increase TCU’s lead to 9-1.
The Cougars managed a late ninth inning run, but the victory was already at TCU’s feet.
TCU then took on Utah again on Friday after Utah lost to San Diego in the winner’s bracket on Thursday.
With the loser of game facing immediate elimination, the stakes and the pressure were extremely high.
The Utes scored first with two runs in the top of the second inning and kept the lead the entire game.
Utah added two more runs in the top of the fifth while TCU broke out in the bottom of the fifth with two runs.
After singling to left field, Matt Curry was able to advance all the way around with a single by left fielder Jason Coats, a sacrifice ground out by center fielder Brance Rivera and a single up the middle by second baseman Corey Steglich, which scored Curry and Coats.
After a lone run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-3, the Frogs tried to rally in the ninth with a lead-off double by Jason Coats.
Coats would eventually make it all the way around to home to score the last run of the game for TCU.
The Frogs were not able to add another tournament title to their list of accolades as Utah eliminated them with a final score of 6-4.
Two Frogs were given All-Tournament Team MVP honors: Senior first baseman Matt Vern and Freshman pitcher Kyle Winkler.
Utah went on to face San Diego State Friday night.
The Utes were able to slip by tournament undefeated No. 4 San Diego State by a score of 4-1 to force a second game for the championship title on Saturday. Utah decisively defeated SDSU the second time by a score of 9-3. The Utes capped off an impressive tournament run with an entry into the history books.
Utah became the first No. 6 seeded team in Mountain West Conference baseball tournament history to win the championship title.
The win ensured Utah an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, which is the Utes first appearance since 1960.