Horned Frogs fall to Utes in first tourney action

TCU spoiled an opportunity to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee in its bid to host a regional, losing to Utah on Wednesday night. Sloppy play and three errors contributed to the Horned Frogs’ 9-7 loss on day two of the Mountain West Conference Baseball Championships at Lupton Stadium.

The team led 4-2 after three innings, but allowed the Utes to score six runs in a fourth inning that saw 10 hitters come to the plate and the Horned Frogs never regained the lead. Utah’s C.J. Cron delivered the inning’s big hit with a two-RBI double.

Paul Gerrish (5-2) started the game for TCU and took the loss, but was not the only hurler on the squad to struggle.

“We pitched behind in the count all day and Gerrish had no second pitch,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Just a lot of bad baseball … they played well and we played poorly.”

TCU threatened in the bottom of the seventh when senior third baseman Matt Carpenter and senior first baseman Matt Vern reached base to start the inning and senior catcher Bryan Holaday drove them in with a one out single. The team had the crowd behind them, but when the rally subsided so did the home field advantage.

Brian Budrow was the workhorse for Utah, throwing 125 pitches in six and one-third of an inning, allowing six runs, but just three earned thanks to three errors on the Utes side.

Two teams the Horned Frogs are in competition with to host the first round, 5th ranked Texas and Texas A&M, lost in the Big 12 Tournament’s opening round.

“We don’t need to be thinking about regionals, hosting regionals or seeding, we just need to think about winning a game,” Schlossnagle said.

TCU lost to New Mexico in the second round of the conference tournament last year and came out of the loser’s bracket to win the championship.

“It’s definitely tough to do it this way, but we showed that we could do it [last year] and we’re looking at the same thing this year,” Carpenter said. “We put ourselves in a hole we just have to play our way out of it.”

TCU will play the winner of the BYU-New Mexico game in an elimination contest Thursday at 3 p.m. at Lupton Stadium. Utah will advance in the winner’s bracket to play San Diego State at 7 p.m..