TEMPE, Ariz. -- TCU saw its ninth-inning rally fall 90 feet short as it stranded the tying run on third base in a 7-6 loss to Arizona State Saturday afternoon. Zack Plunkett hit his first career home run in the loss.
Garrett Crain opened the second with a base hit through the left side. Dane Steinhagen lined a one-out single to right to put two on. Nolan Brown hit a sharp grounder to first, but the Sun Devils were unable to complete the inning-ending double play which loomed large as Plunkett came up big with a three-run bomb off the scoreboard in right center to put the Frogs in front.
Arizona State scratched across a run in the bottom of the frame to pull within two, 3-1. RJ Ybarra's lead-off double kick-started the Sun Devil offense. With one out, he was standing on third when Coltin Gerhart lined an RBI single into center.
Disaster struck in the third when the Sun Devils loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit, a hit batter and an error. Cody Woodmansee pulled Arizona State within one with a sacrifice fly and Ybarra put them in front, 5-3, with a three-run home run to left.
The Frogs will carry a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 3rd after Zack Plunkett's first career home run.— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) February 21, 2015
The Sun Devils added a run in the fifth. Johnny Sewald led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a balk. After a Jordan Aboites sacrifice advanced Sewald to third, Colby Woodmansee bounced a single through the drawn-in infield to drive in the run for a 6-3 lead.
TCU's offense stalled in the middle innings, but came to life in the eighth. Derek Odell broke a string of 11 straight retired by Ryan Kellogg with a one-out base hit. Crain kept the inning alive with a two-out single. The Sun Devils called on their closer, Ryan Burr, to get a four-out save. TCU made it interesting as Jeremie Fagnan delivered a two-out, two-run double in the eighth to pull the Frogs within one, 6-5.
Arizona State got a huge insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. A base hit, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Brian Trieglaff came on and retired the only two batters he faced, but one of the outs was a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Peevyhouse that brought in a run for a 7-5 lead.
In the ninth, the Frogs fought back as Brown reached on a two-base error to open the inning. With two outs, Keaton Jones doubled to the gap in left center to pull the Frogs back within one, 7-6. A wild pitch had Jones standing 90 feet away, but Burr got a strikeout to end the game, stranding the tying run on third.
Tyler Alexander (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. He didn't walk a batter and struck out two. Brian Howard turned in a solid three-inning performance. He was touched four a run on two hits.
With the loss, TCU falls to 5-1 on the season. The Frogs will go for the series win Sunday afternoon when they take on the Sun Devils in the rubber match of the series. Alex Young will make the start for the Horned Frogs.