FORT WORTH, Texas -- Riley Ferrell's biggest moment as the TCU closer turned into one of his best, and the Horned Frogs won the first Super Regional game on their home field.
Derek Odell had a two-run single for an early lead, Ferrell bailed TCU out of trouble in the eighth inning and the Horned Frogs beat Pepperdine 3-2 on Saturday in the opener of a best-of-three series.
The Waves (42-17) had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth when Ferrell struck out Brad Anderson and got Pepperdine's leading hitter, Aaron Barnett, on a groundout to second.Ferrell struck out the side in the ninth for his 15th save to get the Horned Frogs (46-15), the No. 7 national seed, within a win of their second trip to the College World Series.
Game 2 is Sunday.
''I was thinking about throwing in the zone, making good pitches and letting them get it to my defense,'' said Ferrell, who has 62 strikeouts in 37.2 innings and extended the bullpen's scoreless streak to 26 innings. ''Or if they want to swing and miss, that's fine, too.''
TCU ace Brandon Finnegan (9-3), the 17th overall pick by Kansas City in the Major League Baseball draft earlier in the week, was cruising with a two-hit shutout in the seventh when he walked Hutton Moyer and Chris Fornaci knocked him out of the game with a two-run homer to get the Waves within a run.
''I thought the tide was going to turn there and it sure seemed like it was in the dugout,'' Fornaci said of his second homer.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, Odell sent a line drive over the glove of leaping third baseman Austin Davidson to score Keaton Jones and Kyle Bacak.
Kevin Cron scored the decisive run on a fielder's choice from Dylan Fitzgerald in the fifth as TCU won for the 31st time in 34 games.
Pepperdine starter Corey Miller (9-5) gave up a season-high 10 hits in the first five innings against the Horned Frogs, who are in their fourth Super Regional in the past six years. Miller also walked four and hit a batter in 5.1 innings.
The Waves are in their first Super Regional since the format was adopted 15 years ago. They won the 1992 national title when head coach Steve Rodriguez was a player.
Aaron Brown, Pepperdine's leader in home runs and top draft pick as a third-rounder to Philadelphia, had a sacrifice bunt to move up Anderson and Barnett before Ferrell came on. He struck out with two runners on and two outs in a scoreless tie in the third inning.
Brown also leads the Waves with 12 wins as a left-handed starter and will be on the mound in Game 2.