Stillwater, Okla. — TCU scored five times in the bottom of the seventh to break a 5-5 tie and pick up a 10-5 win over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Saturday afternoon at Allie P. Reynolds in the first elimination of the 2008 NCAA Regionals.
The loss ended the season for WKU, and they closed a championship season with a 33-27 record.
Starting pitching struggled for both clubs, as TCU hurler Sean Hoelscher did not record an out before being lifted in the first inning. Hoelscher walked the first three Hilltopper batters of the game before Chad Cregar hit a grand slam over the right-field wall for his 21 homer of the year to put WKU in front 4-0. The four runs driven in on the play gave Cregar 82 for the season, breaking the Hilltopper single-season record of 79 set by Mike Williams during the 1980 season.
Trent Appleby relieved Hoelscher immediately after the home run, and proceeded to retire the first eight men hie faced and hold WKU scoreless over his first 6.1 innings of work.
TCU (44-18) took advantage of the good relief work, and started their comeback right away in the bottom of the first. Leadoff batter Ben Carruthers was hit by a pitch from Rye Davis, then came home to score on a one-out double by Clint Arnold to get the Horned Frogs on the board. Chris Ellington was then able to cut the WKU lead in half with two out single that drove in Arnold and make it a 4-2 game.
The Frogs threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the second when they put two on with one out. Carruthers then hit a deep fly ball to left, but Jeremy Coleman was able to go up on wall and take away a home run to preserve the two-run lead. However, WKU was not as fortunate in the third as Matt Vern hit a three-run homer off Davis to give TCU its first lead of the day at 5-4.
While Appleby was quieting the Hilltopper bats, Colby Beach did the same for WKU after relieving Davis with one out in the third following the Vern home run. Beach held the Horned Frogs scoreless over the middle three innings, allowing just two base hits over that stretch to keep it a one-run deficit for WKU.
The Toppers used the long ball again in the seventh to pull even as Matt Hightower hit a solo homer off Appelby to make it a 5-5 game. However, back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the seventh for TCU ended the day for Beach. Evan Teague came in and got Matt Carpenter to bunt back to the mound as WKU was able to get the lead runner at third for the first out of the inning. Ellington was able to bloop a single to right off of reliever Bryce Jenney to load the bases. Bryan Holaday followed with a two-run double to right that gave TCU a 7-5 lead. A balk by Jenney forced in the eighth run of the game for the Horned Frogs. Bryan Kervin then singled down the left-field line to bring in two more and stretch the TCU lead to 10-5.
WKU was unable to put up any runs in its final two at bats as the season came to a close.
Cregar led the Hilltopper offense with three hits and four RBI to close out his record-breaking offensive season. Ellington went 4-for-5 for TCU, while Vern drove in a team-high three runs with his third-inning homer. Beach (3-4) suffered the loss as he allowed two runs on four hits in his 3.2 innings of relief. Andrew Cashner (9-3) got the win as he was the pitcher of record when the Frogs put up their five-run inning.