OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — All TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle could do this time was credit the team that eliminated his Horned Frogs from the College World Series.
In losing 6-4 to Mississippi on Thursday night, the Frogs left the bases loaded in one inning, went 0 for 9 with two outs and failed to get another hit after Kevin Cron homered to tie it in the fifth inning.
“We set the table a couple of times and Derek (Odell) smoked a ball that was run down, and we had other opportunities,” Schlossnagle said. “Just wasn’t meant to be.”
Two nights earlier, after a 15-inning loss to Virginia, Schlossnagle expressed his frustration over the factors that have made it a struggle to produce offense in college baseball, especially against the prevailing winds at the massive TD Ameritrade Park.
“I thought today was a really clean college baseball game,” he said. “There were some walks and hit batters, but I felt like when the ball got hit hard, it went out of the ballpark. When it didn’t quite get hit hard enough, it stayed in the ballpark. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Ole Miss (48-20) advanced to play No. 3 national seed Virginia on Friday night. The Rebels would need to beat the Cavaliers (51-14) on Friday and again Saturday to reach next week’s best-of-three championship series.
The other bracket has unbeaten Vanderbilt (51-14) against Texas (45-20).
Will Allen and Sikes Orvis combined for six of Ole Miss’ 11 hits against the Frogs. Allen, the Rebels’ regular catcher who was the designated hitter to rest a sore shoulder, snapped out of a mini-slump with three hits and three RBIs.
The Rebels put up the most runs allowed by TCU (48-18) in 16 games, and they did it against a pitching staff that came in with a nation-leading 2.16 ERA.
Ole Miss won its fourth elimination game in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s just something with this team, when our back’s up against the wall, we play really good baseball,” Allen said. “Just a tough team, a very confident team. And we’ve continued to do it throughout the whole season.”
Allen, a .336 hitter for the year, was batting .219 in his previous eight games and was 0 for 8 in the CWS when he stepped to the plate in the third inning. His two-out, two-run double produced a 3-0 lead, he had the tie-breaking base hit in the seventh, and he scored an insurance run after he singled in the ninth.
Allen had been struggling with a sore right shoulder the entire postseason. Austin Knight played a strong game behind the plate and set up a run in the third inning with a sacrifice.
Three Mississippi relievers held TCU without a hit after Cron’s homer. Josh Laxer (3-2) worked 2 2-3 innings for the win, and Aaron Greenwood went the last 1 1-3 innings for his fifth save.
Jordan Kipper (8-3), who relieved struggling TCU starter Tyler Alexander, took the loss.
Alexander, TCU’s first 10-game winner in four years, struggled for a second straight start after he won six in a row. He gave up consecutive hits to start the fourth and left with his team down three runs.
Ole Miss starter Sam Smith lost his control and didn’t make it out of the fourth, either. Laxer came on with the bases loaded and issued a two-out walk to Cody Jones that tied it 3-all. Derek Odell hit a long fly that J.B. Woodman caught near the warning track to end the inning.
Each team added a run in the fifth, with Cron driving Laxer’s high fastball 10 rows into the stands in left field for the CWS’ second homer in 10 games.
“It doesn’t quite feel the same now that we didn’t get the win, but at the time, it was a big part of the game to get that run back,” Cron said. “But it’s somewhat bittersweet, obviously.”
Laxer and freshman Wyatt Short combined to retire nine straight after Cron’s homer. TCU threatened in the eighth, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Short struck out Dylan Fitzgerald, and Greenwood came on and got Keaton Jones to ground to shortstop, with Errol Robinson pumping his fist after throwing out Jones.