Frogs Rally Their Way Into Championship Game
May 29, 2004
Houston, Texas - The TCU Horned Frogs advanced to the championship game in comeback fashion on Saturday night. The Frogs had to rally from a four-run deficit to advance. Kyle Dahlberg drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning to propel the Frogs to victory. The Frog bullpen allowed only one run on seven hits over 8.2 innings. The Frogs did it with clutch hitting late in the game as they scored four times in the final three innings.
The Horned Frogs were in a 3-0 hole before they ever came to the plate in Saturday's elimination game. Houston struck for three runs on five hits in the first inning, which could have been worse had Omar Arif not picked off Travis Tully for the second out of the inning. Another run on two doubles in the second inning gave the Cougars a 4-0 advantage.
TCU got the run back in the bottom of the inning as Chris Neuman connected for his 11th home run of the season and fifth consecutive base hit. The solo shot came with two down and pulled the Frogs within three, 4-1.
Matt Varner held the Frogs in check until the seventh inning. Following the home run by Neuman, Varner set down 12 of 13 before allowing a Chad Huffman base hit to lead off the seventh inning. Austin Adams continued his torrid hitting streak, belting his fourth home run of the tournament over the left field fence to pull the Frogs within one, 4-3. Shelby Ford doubled following the home run, but the Frogs were unable to get the tying run across the plate.
The Frogs dodged a big bullet in the top of the eighth as the Cougars threatened to break the game open. The first two hitters reached base, ending an outstanding performance by Chase Perry. Eugene Espineli (9-4) came on and shut the Cougars down. After a sacrifice moved the runners up to second and third with only one out, Espineli intentionally walked Thanos Papavasiliou to load the bases. He retired the next two batters, leaving the bases loaded and keeping it a 4-3 game.
The Frogs carried the momentum from the seventh over to the eighth inning, tying the game at four. Ramon Moses hustled out a one-out double and moved over to third on a Bo Cogbill groundout. Huffman came through in the clutch, delivering the base hit to center to tie the game, setting up the ninth inning.
Ford singled to start the ninth inning and moved over to second on a Neuman groundout. Down to his final strike, Kyle Dahlberg drove a single up the middle and Ford scampered around third and slide into home plate ahead of the tag to score the game-winning run.
Chase Perry was equally as effective as Varner as he held the Cougars down. Before the seventh inning, Perry had faced only one batter over the minimum. In his 4.1 innings of work, Perry allowed only four hits, struck out five and walked none.
The Frogs will play for the tournament championship on Sunday afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m. TCU will face the third-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles who will try and defend their title from a year ago. Clayton Jerome will get the call on the mound.