Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com (photo by Michael Clements)
FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU catcher Evan Skoug launched a two-run, go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to push the Horned Frogs past Missouri State 3-2 Saturday night in Game 1 of the Fort Worth Super Regional.
Next week, Skoug will be selected in the Major League Draft and is expected to sign a professional contract, but for now, he is still a Horned Frog.
Skoug’s place in TCU history grew larger as his 19th long ball of the season put his team within a game of its fourth straight trip to Omaha and moved him into the Top five in school history in career rankings for both home runs and RBI.
“Somebody asked me in the press conference yesterday if Evan had done enough to go down as one of the great TCU players,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He certainly had long before today, but he definitely put a stamp on that tonight.”
Missouri State starting pitcher Dylan Coleman kept TCU hitters off balance all night, striking out 10 while allowing three hits and one run through his first seven innings.
“Dylan Coleman for Missouri State was phenomenal,” Schlossnagle said. “He pitched outstanding, as good of a game that has been pitched on this field by a visiting team that I can remember.”
Already 122 pitches into his outing, Coleman returned to the mound for the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead. After retiring the Frogs’ leading hitter Austen Wade, Coleman walked Zach Humphreys before being pulled from the game.
“[Coach] asked me if I was feeling good,” Coleman said about the decision to return to the mound for the eighth. “I was not going to take myself out in that situation. I was still feeling good, but the last batter cost me.”
Bears coach Keith Guttin called on veteran left-hander Jordan Knutson to face the lefty Skoug, and the rest is history.
“I feel comfortable against lefties,” Skoug said. “My dad was a lefty, my brother is a lefty, so I’ve grown up always hitting off left-handed pitchers. I put in a lot of work against the left-handed breaking ball machine because I know that teams are going to try to bring in their left-handed specialist against me in big situations.”
Missouri State jumped in front early when shortstop Jeremy Eierman lined a home run to the opposite field off TCU ace Jared Janczak in the second inning. Eierman, alongside third baseman Jake Burger, make up arguably the most dangerous middle of the order duo in the country.
Eierman’s solo shot was his 23rd of the season, moving him into a tie for fifth in the country and past Burger, who sits at 22.
The Frogs answered the Bears’ run with one of their own in the bottom of the inning, using a leadoff walk and a two-out single by Ryan Merrill to even the game at 1.
Both teams were held off the board until the top of the fifth, when Janczak surrendered the final of his two runs on a perfectly executed safety squeeze by Hunter Steinmetz.
Sean Wymer (5-4) earned the win for the Frogs, picking up five key outs to bridge the gap between Janczak and closer Durbin Feltman.
Feltman, a freshman All-American in 2016, entered in the top of the ninth and allowed two baserunners to reach but got John Privitera to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game. The save was Feltman’s 17th of the year, which currently leads the nation.
Eierman believes that he and his team can draw off their Regional experience in Fayetteville to help them battle from behind in the series.
“I think Arkansas really helped us,” Eierman said. “The atmosphere was pretty hostile there. I think we can go back to that and realize that we lost a tough one there just like we did today, and just come back tomorrow with the same energy.”
The Frogs and Bears will meet in Game 2 of the Fort Worth Super Regional on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Lupton Stadium.