May 23, 2008
FORT WORTH, Texas - Matt Carpenter's three-run homer in the seventh inning provided the big blow while the TCU bullpen finished another game as the No. 21 and top-seeded Horned Frogs rallied for a 9-2 victory over New Mexico Friday night at the Phillips 66 Mountain West Conference Baseball Championship at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth.
TCU (42-17) and New Mexico (34-24) will meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. (MDT) in the championship game. The winner will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The two teams will face each other for the sixth time in the last nine days.
The Horned Frogs were playing their second game of the day in 90-plus degree weather, as they earlier defeated Utah 6-3 in an elimination contest.
The Frogs' bullpen has yet to surrender a run in 16 innings of work through the opening four games of the tournament. Four relievers have combined for the shutout ball that has seen just 10 hits and two walks allowed with five strikeouts.
Taylor Cragin (1-0) was the latest bullpen hero for TCU. He tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings scattering five hits while walking one.
TCU turned four double plays on the night as starter Greg Holle and Cragin did not strike out a batter.
Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, TCU scored five runs to take a 6-2 lead. The big blow was a three-run homer to center by Carpenter, his second of the tournament and ninth of the season.
With one out, Matt Vern singled and moved to third on a base hit by Ben Carruthers. Steve Ellington then laid down a bunt that was misplayed by Lobo starter Jacob Norton (6-5). Vern scored to tie the game while Carruthers moved to second. Credited with a sacrifice bunt and an RBI, Steve Ellington reached first.
New Mexico then called upon John Hesketh from the bullpen. Clint Arnold greeted Hesketh with a single to left to score Carruthers and put TCU on top 3-2. Two batters later, Carpenter delivered his shot over the wall.
Norton held TCU to one run on seven hits through six innings. Two of the four runs he was charged with were earned.
The Frogs added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, highlighted by a two-run triple from Steve Ellington.
For the first time in its four games at the MWC Tournament, TCU scored first.
The Frogs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Chris Ellington's fourth sacrifice fly of the season. It scored Steve Ellington who reached base with a one-out single.
Neda, the 2008 MWC Freshman of the Year, and Moore both had two hits to lead the Lobos at the plate. Senior Ian Hollick moved into fifth place on the Lobos' career games played list (220) and tied for fifth on the all-time career walks list in the third inning (108).
Arnold and Vern keyed the Frogs' 13-hit attack with three hits each.
TCU threatened to break the tie in the bottom of the third. With one out, Steve Ellington reached first on a bunt single before Arnold doubled to left to put runners on second and third. Chris Ellington then flew out to center. Steve Ellington tagged on the play but was thrown out at home by Adam Courcha.
In the top of the fourth, it was TCU's turn to throw out a runner at the plate. However, it came after New Mexico took the lead. After the first two batters of the inning were retired, back-to-back singles by Courcha and Scott Gracey put runners on first and second and led to Holle's departure.
Cragin took over on the mound and gave up a double to right center by Mike Brownstein to score Courcha, but Gracey was gunned down at the plate on a relay throw by Carruthers.
TCU, whose 42 victories are the second-most in school history, won for the 13th time in its last 14 games and improved to 28-5 since April 1. The Frogs have also won 17 of their last 18 conference tournament games, including 9-of-10 in three seasons of MWC play.
New Mexico is making its first appearance in a conference tournament championship game since 1992, when it was a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).