The Central Connecticut baseball team mounted a late rally and pushed No. 6 TCU before falling, 9-6, on Saturday night in the opening round of the NCAA Regional at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. The Blue Devils would score five runs in the ninth and send the tying run to the plate before the Horned Frogs could close out the game after 1:00 a.m. local time.
The loss drops CCSU to 36-21 on the season and drops them into an elimination game against Dallas Baptist University at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. The game will be carried live on ESPN3.
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE (VIDEO)
TCU had the first scoring opportunity of the night after Austen Wade led off the home half of the first inning with a walk and stole second. Cam Warner would hit a two-out single to right field and Wade was sent around third. Senior Franklin Jennings delivered a strike to throw Wade out at home and end the inning.
Horned Frogs starter Mitchell Traver struck out six through the first four innings and did not allow a hit until CCSU threatened in the fifth. Junior Mitch Guilmette led off by reaching on an error and freshman Buddy Dewaine followed with a single through the left side. A fly ball moved Guilmette to third, but Traver worked out of the jam by inducing a double-play to end the inning.
Senior Brendan Smith making his first NCAA Tournament start kept the Blue Devils in the game, allowing just one hit in the first four innings before the Horned Frogs broke up the scoreless tie in the home half of the fifth inning. Connor Wanhanen drew a one-out walk, then stole second and moved to third on an error. Josh Watson doubled down the left field line to score Wanhanen and make it 1-0.
TCU tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth with all of the damage coming with two outs. With runners on second and third, Nolan Brown singled through the middle to plate two runs and extend the lead to 3-0.
The Blue Devils got on the board with a run in the eighth. Dewaine drew a leadoff walk that ended Traver's night. He would move to second on a groundout and then scored on a double by senior Nick Landell to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Horned Frogs seemed to break the game open with seven runs in the eighth inning. TCU put runners on the corners with no outs and after a pitching change, Evan Skoug would hit a three-run homerun to right field to open the scoring. Elliott Barzilli and Josh Watson would each hit two-run doubles that capped the TCU scoring to push the margin to eight runs.
The Blue Devils strung together three straight hits to open the ninth inning and spark a late rally as they would bat around in the inning. Freshman Chris Kanios pinch hit to lead off the ninth inning and delivered a triple to right field. Junior Ryan Costello followed with a single to center field to drive in a run and make it 9-2. Freshman TT Bowens recorded the third straight hit of the inning with a single to left. With one out, Dewaine drew a walk and a throwing error on the play would allow Costello and Bowens to come around and cut the lead to 9-4. The Blue Devils would load the bases with two outs for junior Dean Lockery who doubled down the line to right to score two runs and and make it 9-6. TCU was forced to make a pitching change and bring on closer Durbin Feltman to get the final out and end the game.
Smith went 6.0 innings for CCSU in the start. He allowed three runs on four hits, while striking out five and walking three. Freshman Michael Delease and sophomore Jared Gallagher each threw an inning in relief.
Seven Blue Devils recorded hits on the night. Dewaine reached base three times for the Blue Devils, while Bowens reached twice and Lockery drove in two runs, while Costello and Landell each added one.
Traver's night finished after 7.0 innings. He was charged with one run on one hit, while walking two and striking out nine.
Warner finished with three hits on the night, while Skoug was one of four TCU batters with at least two runs batted in.
The Blue Devils will be in action Sunday in an elimination game against Dallas Baptist University at 1:00 p.m. ET. The game will be carried live on ESPN3.