Humphreys' two-run double decides 4-hour, 43-minute series opener
Zach Humphreys decided a game with his bat in the 14th inning that he missed ending with his catcher's mitt in the 11th.
Humphreys' two-run double in the top of the 14th lifted TCU to a 3-1 victory against No. 8 Texas Tech in a Big 12 series opener Thursday night, keeping the Red Raiders from taking over first place in the conference standings going into the final weekend of the regular season.
In a game that took dramatic twists and turns late, Humphreys' one-out double to right field off Clayton Beeter scored Conner Shepherd and Adam Oviedo, who both singled off losing pitcher John McMillon (2-3).
Three innings before, Tech pinch runner Dru Baker used a swim move to avoid a Humphreys tag at home, scoring on a Cody Masters double and the overturned out call to tie the game 1-1. Tech center fielder Dylan Neuse threw out a runner at the plate to keep the game scoreless in the ninth, and TCU right fielder Jake Guenther threw out a runner at the plate to keep it 1-1 in the 13th.
Asked how he'd characterize the crazy last several innings, Tech coach Tim Tadlock said, "Characterize it? Well ... Barnburner? How's that?"
Tech (34-15, 14-8) remained one-half game behind No. 13 Baylor (33-14, 14-7), which lost 16-4 Thursday night at No. 14 Oklahoma State.
The Red Raiders got the potential tying runs into scoring position off Augie Mihlbauer in the bottom of the 14th, but the sophomore lefthander struck out Josh Jung and Baker to end a 4-hour, 43-minute game.
Jung led off the 13th with a double, but Guenther gunned him at the plate for the first out of the inning after a Baker single.
Asked if the Red Raiders were overzealous in sending Jung, Tech coach Tim Tadlock said, "I would say so. I think you've got to give credit to their right fielder, too. He almost exchanged the ball like an infielder, and he made a perfect throw. The throw was on line.
"That's one of those things you wish you could have back. But at the same time, if you go over there (to coach third), you're going to get some guys thrown out."
Humphreys' timely hit ultimately settled a pitchers' duel in which TCU starter Nick Lodolo struck out 13 in eight scoreless innings and Tech's Micah Dallas fanned eight in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the season. Tech pitchers struck out 21, most in a Big 12 game this season.
Each team scored its first run in a bizarre 11th.
TCU cleanup hitter Johnny Rizer singled and came home on a dropped third strike that gave TCU a 1-0 lead.
Rizer, who had four hits, stole second, but shortstop Jung missed Braxton Fulford's throw and Rizer scrambled to third. A moment later, McMillon struck out Shepherd on the dropped third strike that could have ended the inning.
But as he ranged to his left to open up a throwing lane, Fulford stumbled and fell, winding up on his hands and knees. The Tech catcher never got off the throw and Rizer came home.
"I would say he just got his feet caught up, probably crossed his feet," Tadlock said. "It looked like he crossed his right foot behind his left. The guys did a really good job. We were really proud of the guys for coming in and picking him up in that situation.
"It's one of those things I guess if you hang around the game long enough, you see something you didn't think you'd see."
TCU reliever Cal Coughlin retired the first two batters in the bottom of the 11th, but Cameron Warren singled and Baker ran for Warren at first.
Masters pulled a double down the right-field line with Baker called out at the plate on Shepherd's relay throw from first. But as he dove for the plate, Baker pulled back his right arm to avoid the tag and touched the plate with his left, eluding Humphreys with the swim move.
Umpires changed the out call after looking at replay, making it 1-1 as the announced crowd of 4,011 erupted and settled in for more baseball.
"What a good slide," Tadlock said. "Send him on that one, and the ball beats him by a long way. He did the ol' swim slide."
After Dallas threw his seven scoreless innings, TCU stranded runners in scoring position in the eighth, ninth and 10th.
Lodolo, projected to be a high first-round pick in next month's Major League draft, looked the part. The slender 6-foot-6 lefthander held the Red Raiders to five hits while striking out 13 for the third time this season. Lodolo works off a 93- to 95-mph fastball, but most of his strikeouts came on a low-80s slider that induced weak swings.
"He's got a special arm and really pitched well tonight," Tadlock said.
Lodolo struck out Brian Klein with the bases loaded to end the eighth after the Red Raiders strung together three singles — a liner from Kurt Wilson leading off, an opposite-field hit from Fulford with one out and an infield squibber from Neuse.
But Lodolo got Klein to wave at an 84-mph slider, a pitch that worked all night.
Dallas matched zeroes with Lodolo through seven innings before Taylor Floyd replaced him, and Floyd got two strikeouts to end the eighth with a runner at third. TCU's Bobby Goodloe hit a leadoff single, took second on a bunt and third on a passed ball.
With the infield drawn in, Floyd fanned leadoff batter Josh Watson, then with the infield back did the same to Guenther, the Big 12's second-leading hitter.
Floyd kept it scoreless in the ninth with even more of a high-wire act that included Neuse throwing out a runner at the plate and Floyd escaping a two-out, two-on situation with another strikeout.
TCU had Rizer at second after a one-out double, and Alex Isola singled to center. Neuse fired a strong throw home on one hop, easily cutting down Rizer to keep the game scoreless.
"That was a hell of a throw," Tadlock said. "I mean, to keep the game zero-zero. He wasn't that shallow. He put it right on the money. It was a good throw, really fun to watch."
Dallas scattered seven hits in his seven innings. TCU got the leadoff batter on against the freshman righthander in the second, fifth and sixth, but the Red Raiders immediately erased all three with two double plays and a caught stealing.
A lucky bounce didn't hurt either. After issuing a one-out walk in the seventh to Shepherd, Dallas spiked a pitch that bounced and skipped to Fulford's left. But the ball hit plate umpire Chris Coskey, allowing Fulford to quickly grab it and throw out Shepherd going to second.
Then Dallas struck out Oviedo with a 93-mph fastball on his last pitch of the night.
"He had good stuff," Tadlock said. "The ball was coming out of his hand good. He commanded the fastball. Had a really good breaking ball today."
TCU 3, TEXAS TECH 1
Lodolo, Coughlin (9), Green (11), D.Brown (11), Mihlbauer (14) and Humphreys; Dallas, Floyd (8), Haveman (10), McMillon (11), Beeter (14) and Fulford. W—D.Brown (1-0). L—McMillon (2-3). Sv—Mihlbauer (1). 2B—TCU, Henry (7), Rizer (13), Watson (18), Humphreys (5); Texas Tech, Warren (9), Masters (3), Jung (20). Records: TCU 29-22, 11-11; Texas Tech 34-15, 14-8.