CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Completely handcuffed by Harrison Musgrave in Saturday’s opener, TCU promptly teed off on West Virginia’s Game 2 starter Dan Dierdorff.
The Horned Frogs tagged Dierdorff for six first-inning runs and later used two diving outfield catches to hold off the Mountaineers 7-4 and salvage a doubleheader split at Appalachian Power Park.
After stranding 13 baserunners, West Virginia (30-21, 12-8) slipped a game behind first-place Kansas State in the Big 12 standings. The Mountaineers and TCU (24-25, 8-12) conclude the series Sunday with a 1 p.m. rubber game that could be crucial to WVU’s hopes of an NCAA at-large bid.
“We’re still in the position we want to be in,” said WVU coach Randy Mazey. “For the most part, we still control our own destiny. With four games left in the conference season, we couldn’t ask to be in a better spot.”
Dierdorff (4-6) recorded only two outs and departed after 37 pitches, having allowed four earned runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA climbed from 4.61 to 5.32.
TCU’s Jantzen Whitt and Keaton Jones each lashed two-run doubles in the inning, which included an infield popup that dropped near shortstop Taylor Munden after a miscommunication.
“We were down six runs in the first inning and we hadn’t even picked up the bats yet,” Mazey said. “That hasn’t happened to us this year. Our starters have been really, really good most of the season, so that was pretty uncharacteristic.”
West Virginia countered with two runs in the bottom of the first after TCU starter Brandon Finnegan, who was selected to Team USA last month, walked the bases full. Ryan Tuntland lined an RBI single and Ryan McBroom added a sac-fly, but WVU missed a chance to move closer when Matt Frazer struck out looking with the bases loaded and Alan Filauro grounded to second.
After WVU reliever Josh Harlow’s wild-pitch put TCU up 7-2 in the third, McBroom blasted his 11th homer of the season in the bottom half – a two-run shot that ricocheted off an inflatable bounce house on the concourse in left-center.
Though McBroom’s prodigious homer finished Finnegan’s day, Stefan Crichton (4-3) came on for the next four outs, part of TCU’s bullpen delivering 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“That’s our main goal, to get the starting pitcher out as soon as possible, and we did a pretty good job of that,” McBroom said. “But they’ve got a really deep pitching staff. TCU brought in (five) different pitchers, all with great arms, all guys who threw the baseball 95 or above.”
McBroom was robbed of an RBI double in the fourth on TCU left fielder Boomer White’s lunging catch in the gap. That was the defensive play of the day, at least until Brett Johnson made a sliding grab in the right-field corner that saved at least one run in the eighth.
TCU’s Riley Ferrell, flashing a fastball that registered 100 mph on the stadium radar screen, got the final seven outs for his second save.
“With their bullpen,” Mazey said, “that (6-0 deficit) was just a little too much to come back from.”