Luck and persistance beats near perfection

Luck and persistance beats near perfection

In a sport where every nine-innings tell a story, the immergence of athletes as heroes and goats becomes a common motif. Sunday’s baseball game between the No. 26 TCU Horned Frogs and the UCSB Gauchos turned into an afternoon pitchers’ duel that was highlighted by some ugly fielding and three costly unearned runs.

Though the scoreboard read 8-3 in TCU’s favor at the end of the game, the Gaucho’s (11-16) deserved respect for the performance in the first in the first six innings of the ballgame.

UCSB starting pitcher, freshman Mike Ford turned in a dazzling performance worthy of a gameball when he went through 6 scoreless innings and allowed only one runner to reach base. His bid for a perfect game was erased when TCU second baseman Ben Carruthers singled up the middle on a soft linedrive with two-outs in the bottom of the sixth.

“Their pitcher had a really hot hand and we weren’t looking very good there, but I felt if we could keep it close we could get back to them,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

At this point in the game, TCU was down 3-0 and relying on junior righthander Chance Corgan to carry the lifeless Horned Frog bats through the afternoon.

“Scoring five or six runs would have been tough, but scoring two or three I thought we could do and Chance did a good job of keeping us in there,” Schlossnagle said.

After Carruthers reached base, the Horned Frogs went away quietly when shortstop Bryan Kervin struck out to end the inning. However, that out was the last time TCU would be kept silent in the box as the Horned Frogs managed to push across eight runs on nine hits in the next two at-bats.

Sadly, the Ford outing was the only bright spot for the Gaucho’s when sloppy play between the lines cost UCSB the game as the relievers came on to try and preserve the starters’ gem.

A pair of errors by UCSB shortstop Shane Carlson on a routine double-play ball in the bottom of the seventh put TCU on the board. By the end of the frame, the score was tied 3-3 with only one run being earned.

“You have good at-bats and put the ball in play and force the other team to play catch and when you do that and they don’t then good things will happen,” Schlossnagle said.

One inning later, another double-play ball was botched by the Gaucho’s third baseman, Gunnar Terhune, and that led to a five-run Horned Frog rally in the eighth frame.

Corgan’s performance enabled TCU to stay within striking distance until the late innings, though his fastball, changeup, curveball pattern was outclassed by Ford’s outing. Corgan was given a no-decision for his efforts, but the late inning run-support helped land the Horned Frogs the team’s 18th consecutive home win. TCU is currently 14-0 at home this season and 21-8 overall.

“We’ve gotten run support all weekend and it was only time before our guys would come around,” Corgan said. “The other pitcher did really well, and our hitters came through in a clutch situation and I wasn’t worried at all.”

The win was credited to TCU closer Sam Demel who is now 4-1 on the season. During the ninth inning, Schlossnagle used his late inning strategy of keeping Demel in the field in case a last minute save situation would develop. Though the situation did not occur, Demel was in position to get credit for the win and save in the same outing.