COLLEGE STATION – TCU has turned its fortunes around with three consecutive wins in the NCAA tournament at Blue Bell Park. After losing their first game Friday, the Horned Frogs have fought back to force a championship rematch at 6:35 p.m. Monday against Ole Miss. TCU (39-20) won twice Sunday, including 5-2 over the Rebels Sunday night to force the decisive game Monday. Earlier Sunday, the Frogs defeated Texas A&M 10-2 to eliminate the Aggies in their last game played in the Big 12 Conference. They move to the Southeastern Conference in July. The Frogs received stellar performances from starting pitchers Stefan Crichton and Brandon Finnegan to stay alive Sunday.
Crichton improved to 9-2 after pitching his first complete game against the Aggies. Crichton held A&M to six hits and struck out four.
In the nightcap, Finnegan, a freshman from Fort Worth Southwest High School, pitched perhaps the best game of his young career, going a career-high 7 1/3 innings while striking out seven and holding Ole Miss to six hits. The pitching finally took the spotlight away from the Frogs’ offense, which exploded for 28 runs against Dayton Saturday, and then scored 10 more to eliminate Texas A&M early Sunday.
Against Ole Miss (37-25), the Frogs scored just enough behind Finnegan’s arm.
Derek Odell turned on a fastball for a two-run homer to right to give the Frogs a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. It was Odell’s second homer of the day. He hit a solo shot to put the Frogs up 3-2 in the third inning against the Aggies. TCU made it 3-1 in the fifth when Brance Rivera led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Keaton Jones and scored on Kyle Von Tungeln’s sac fly. TCU added a run each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings on RBIs from Josh Gonzales, Kyle Von Tungeln and Kevin Cron. Justin Scharf pitched the final 1 2/3 to earn the save. Finnegan improved to 4-4 with the victory.
-- Stefan Stevenson