FORT WORTH (AP) – Pepperdine’s Aaron Brown beat TCU with his arm — from the mound and center field.
Brown pitched seven scoreless innings, then made a game-saving throw from center as the Waves held on for a 3-2 victory Sunday night. They forced a deciding third game in the NCAA Fort Worth super regional for a spot in the College World Series.
“Aaron Brown was obviously outstanding, all over the field,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “To me, he’s the story of the game. As (Texas) coach (Augie) Garrido says, sometimes when you lose it’s not your fault. I think it’s more about Aaron Brown today than anything else.”
Brown (13-1), the West Coast Conference pitcher of the year and a third-round draft pick by Philadelphia as an outfielder, won his 10th consecutive decision. The lefty scattered five hits with four strikeouts and two walks while throwing 119 pitches.
After he was done on the mound, reliever Chandler Blanchard allowed four of the six batters he faced to reach base. The Frogs had already scored twice, with one coming home after two throwing errors on the same play, before Keaton Jones singled to center.
But Brown fielded the ball and made a strong throw home to cut down the tying run to end the eighth. Jerrick Suiter was tagged out trying to dive over catcher Aaron Barnett.
“As soon as I saw it hit to center, we had a chance,” coach Steve Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t surprise me. That’s just what kind of athlete he is.”
Brown got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third with consecutive strikeouts.
Game 3 is Monday.
Pepperdine (43-17) has been to Omaha twice, and won the 1992 national title in its last trip when Rodriguez was an All-American infielder for the Waves.
TCU (46-16), the No. 7 national seed, had its 10-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the fourth time its last 35 games. The Frogs went to their only College World Series four years ago.
Brandon Caruso had a pair of run-scoring hits and Hutton Moyer scored twice for Pepperdine. Eric Karch worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
After Moyer scored on Manny Jefferson’s sac fly in the seventh, Caruso’s RBI double made it 3-0.
Big 12 pitcher of the year Preston Morrison (9-4) struck out six in 6 2-3 innings, while allowing three runs and five hits.
Sophomore right-hander Jackson McClelland (8-3) will start Monday for Pepperdine. The Frogs counter with freshman lefty Tyler Alexander (10-3), who has given up only six runs his last seven starts and has consecutive complete-game victories — in the NCAA regional clincher last week and the Big 12 tournament before that.
“Winner-take-all, what else can you ask for as a college baseball fan,” Rodriguez said. “This is one of the best opportunities for our guys, for myself, our coaching staff, TCU, coach Schlossnagle. It’s just an amazing experience.”
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