NORMAN, Okla. – The plan was to have Brandon Finnegan pitch a few innings Tuesday against Oklahoma. The freshman from Fort Worth Southwest High School had only thrown three innings since his last start April 24 and his last appearance was nearly two weeks ago.
But Finnegan was too good for an early departure. He struck out seven Sooners and held Oklahoma hitless through seven innings as the No. 20 Horned Frogs held on for a 1-0 win at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
It was TCU’s first win in Norman since 2006 and the first time the Frogs (33-16) have swept Oklahoma (TCU beat the Sooners 4-3 May 1 in Fort Worth) since 2004.
Like much of this season, it didn’t come easy. After burning through the Sooners’ lineup for seven innings when he allowed just three base runners (on a hit batter and two errors), Finnegan had two runners on with no outs in the eighth after his throwing error to first and an infield single by Caleb Bushyhead.
Justin Scharf replaced Finnegan and worked out of the jam. Catcher Josh Elander got the first out by jumping on a bunt and throwing to third base to get the lead runner. Scharf got a strikeout and a fly out to end the inning. In the ninth, Scharf hit leadoff batter Cody Reine, but the TCU defense came through again. Reine was thrown out at third base on Max White’s single to right after a nice throw by right fielder Brance Rivera to shortstop Keaton Jones, who relayed to Jantzen Witte. Scharf corralled a hot shot back to the mound and threw to second base to get White for out No. 2. After an infield single over the mound Kevin Allen came in to face Evan Mistich and struck him out looking on a 3-2 count to end the game.
“This was a nail-biter but we got all the breaks that we haven’t had in the past,” said Jason Coats, whose RBI double in the first inning scored Josh Elander for the only run of the game. “Finnegan was lights out today. He pitched the best I’ve ever seen him pitch. And Scharf and Allen coming in closing the door feels pretty good. We finally came out on top here.”
Finnegan (3-3) struck out Oklahoma’s leadoff batter Erik Ross looking at a 95 mph fastball and faced the minimum through the first six innings, thanks to Elander throwing out White on an attempted steal in the first inning. In the seventh, an error helped the Sooners get a runner to second with one out, but two defensive gems by first baseman Kevin Cron stranded him at third. Cron stayed with a foul ball and made a catch over a wall in foul territory for the second out, and made an acrobatic tag on a slow bouncer down the line to end the inning.
“I pride myself on running after them even if I hear it’s out,” said Cron, who had two of the Frogs’ six hits. “Brance came to me earlier in the game and told me not to give up on those because they’re coming back this way. Most of these guys they haven’t won here at all. To give them a sweep this year was a real good thing for us freshmen to be able to give to the older guys.”
Dillon Overton (5-3) pitched a complete game and struck out five but took the loss for the Sooners (33-20).
Finnegan’s previous longest outing was 5 1/3 in his start against Texas A&M April 24. The rest, he said, helped with his stamina.
“My arm was feeling amazing,” Finnegan said. “That was a fun game.”
-- Stefan Stevenson