Russell Smith allowed one run on three hits with six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. Marcelo Perez pitched well in relief, allowing one run over three innings. Those were impressive season debuts of course.
But TCU baseball’s best pitching performance Sunday might’ve come from Garrett Wright, a true freshman making his college debut. Wright entered in the ninth inning with the potential game-winning run on base, but got out of it by inducing a game-ending double-play grounder to send the Frogs to a 3-2 victory over No. 7 Mississippi State on Day 2 of the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field.
“It’s not fair for me to put him in that position for his first college appearance,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “But we felt like, when he’s on, he’s the best guy to get a swing and miss.”
Wright wasn’t “on” initially. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches to load the bases with one out, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. He responded, though, by getting Mississippi State’s Drew McGowan to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.
Wright earned a save in his college debut and preserved the win for Smith.
“I was a little nervous for him,” Smith said. “But he’s one of the best out there. He’s prepared — and he’s better than I was as a freshman. I was a little nervous, but he got the ground ball we needed to win.”
The Frogs were in that position thanks to Smith and Perez. Smith had his slider working all day, and Perez relied on his fastball that consistently sat in the 92-94 mph range.
The pitchers had a lead from the start as TCU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a couple errors by Mississippi State. The Frogs extended it to 2-0 in the top of the sixth on an RBI groundout by Austin Henry.
The Bulldogs pulled to within 2-1 on a solo homer by Rowdey Jordan in the bottom of the sixth off Smith. But the Frogs scored one more in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Tommy Sacco.
A 3-1 lead seemed safe with Perez retiring eight of the first nine batters he faced, including a strikeout to start the bottom of the ninth. But he then gave up a double to catcher Logan Tanner and an RBI single to Josh Hatcher as the Bulldogs pulled to within 3-2.
TCU turned to Augie Mihlbauer next, who gave up a single to Luke Hancock. That was the only batter Mihlbauer faced as Wright was brought in with runners at the corners and one out.
He issued the four-pitch walk to Scotty Dubrule before the game-ending double-play grounder by McGowan.
“Thankfully they hit a hard ground ball right at us,” Schlossnagle said.
TCU is now 1-1 in the tournament after falling to Ole Miss on Saturday. The Frogs close the tournament against Arkansas on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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