TCU Wins C-USA Baseball Tournament
TCU Celebrates Championship
TCU scored a run in the first and added two in the third and that was all the Horned Frogs would need as the No. 4 seed held on for the 3-1 win over third-seeded Southern Miss to claim the tournament title on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the 2004 Conference USA Baseball Tournament. It marks the first-ever conference tournament championship for TCU.
TCU improves to 38-24 on the year, while USM falls to 44-17. The 38 wins tie for the most ever by a Horned Frog team.
With the win as the tournament champions, TCU earns an automatic bid to the 2004 NCAA Baseball Tournament, set to get underway next week with the Regionals. It will only be the Horned Frogs third NCAA appearance and their first since 1994.
“We were trying to win two or three games in the tournament and make it to regionals, but this is unbelievable, said TCU closer Robbie Findlay. “The pitching came through, the hitting came through, especially Austin Adams. It was just a great team effort.”
TCU starter Clayton Jerome had a shut out through one out in the eighth when he surrendered a single run. Jason Lowery led off the inning with a triple, and after getting Nathan Sanders to strike out swinging, Beau Griffin sent Lowery home on a sacrifice fly to right.
Jerome earned the win, allowing the one run on seven hits and fanning five in 7.1 innings of work. He improves his record to 9-5 on the season. The victory was the 28th of Jerome’s career, moving him into second place all-time at TCU.
"He’s the ace of our staff and has been for the last couple of years,” said TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. “He’s arguably the best pitcher in the league. He didn’t pitch well against Houston on Wednesday and when I took him out of that game I told him ‘go ice down big man, because we’re going to need you on Sunday.’ He knew he had to be ready to take the ball and that’s what great players do in great moments.”
The Horned Frogs first run came in the first. Bo Cogbill drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on two wild pitches. Austin Adams followed Chad Huffman’s strikeout and singled Cogbill home.
J.J. Estrada led off the third with a single to third. Ramon Moses followed with a walk, and a sacrifice bunt by Cogbill moved both runners to second and third. Huffman followed with a single to right center to score TCU’s final two runs.
USM starter Cliff Russum suffered the loss for the Golden Eagles and falls to 6-4 on the year. He gave up all three runs on two hits and three walks in just two innings of action.
2004 C-USA TOURNAMENT NOTEBOOK
TCU becomes the fifth different school to win the Conference USA Tournament, joining Tulane (4), Houston (2), East Carolina and Southern Miss.
TCU became the second team in C-USA Tournament history to lose its first game and then win five straight to win the tournament (Tulane did it in 2001 with their College World Series team).
Southern Miss advanced to the championship game for the second year in a row. It is the first time in school history that USM has played in back-to-back conference tournament title games.
This was the second-highest scoring tournament in C-USA history. A total of 202 runs were scored in this tournament. Only the league’s inaugural tournament in 1996 in Hattiesburg produced more (250).
The tournament produced three straight one-run games on Thursday, had back-to-back bottom of the ninth inning rallies (UAB and Houston on Thursday), saw a game decided on a wild pitch for the first time in tournament history (UAB defeating Memphis) and also saw a record three games called due to the conference’s 10-run rule. Saturday night’s TCU-Houston game marked the third game won in the final at-bat in this tournament.
Southern Miss’ Jarrett Hoffpauir and TCU’s Austin Adams each broke the C-USA Tournament record for home runs in a series with four.
USM set the C-USA team tournament records for home runs (15) and RBI (55) in the tournament.
Southern Miss has scored 33 of its 60 runs in the tournament via home run balls.
This is only the second time in C-USA Tournament history that two teams swept a pair of games on Saturday to reach the championship. Tulane and USF accomplished the feat in 2001.
TCU became the eighth different Conference USA school to play in the tournament championship game in the league’s first nine seasons.
Houston led all tournament teams in hitting (.331), followed by East Carolina (.327). TCU topped all clubs in pitching with a 3.50 ERA, followed by Houston at 4.08.
2004 ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
C Brad Willcutt, Southern Miss (.391, 2B, HR, 5 RBI)
IF Matt Shepherd, Southern Miss (.296, 2 2B, 3 RBI)
IF Jarrett Hoffpauir, Southern Miss (.520, 2 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI)
IF Chris Neuman, TCU (.476, 2 HR, 2 RBI)
IF Bo Cogbill, TCU (.333, 2 2B, 6 RBI)
OF Ryan Frith, Southern Miss (.304, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI)
OF Chad Huffman, TCU (.455, 2 2B, 3 RBI)
OF Austin Adams, TCU (.542, 2 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI)
DH Kevin Roberts, Houston (.412, 3 RBI)
P Mike Cashion, Southern Miss (1-0, 0.00 ERA, CG, 8 K, 0 BB)
P Eugene Espinelli, TCU (2-0, 2.89 ERA, 3 K, 2 BB)
P Clayton Jerome, TCU (1-1, 5.40 ERA, 9 K, 2 BB)
P Ryan Weems, TCU (1-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 K, 1 BB)
Tournament MVP: Austin Adams, TCU