TCU Advances on Grand Slam Home Run

TCU now needs to beat UCLA twice

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TCU's Matt Curry was barely out of the batter's box when he started celebrating his go-ahead grand slam.

    "I've hit some home runs, and I usually know when I get them," he said.

    One problem. Florida State center fielder Tyler Holt was positioning himself as if he were going to catch the fly.

    "My heart just sank to my stomach," Curry said.

    Suddenly, Holt turned to face the high fence in center field, looking up.

    That ball was gone -- long gone -- and the Horned Frogs are sticking around at the College World Series.

    Curry's slam in TCU's eight-run eighth inning finished the Frogs' comeback from a five-run deficit, and they went on to eliminate error-prone Florida State with an 11-7 victory Wednesday night.

    The dramatic win carried the Frogs (53-13) to the Bracket 1 championship game in their first CWS appearance. They will play UCLA on Friday, needing to beat the Bruins twice to reach next week's best-of-three finals.

    "Definitely the biggest home run of my career," said Curry, who leads the team with 18.

    The Frogs, who beat Florida State 8-1 in their CWS opener, trailed 7-3 entering the eighth.

    Third baseman Sherman Johnson committed the Seminoles' fifth error to start the inning, and it was a two-run game when Curry came to bat against Mike McGee, the hitting-and-pitching hero Wednesday in an 8-5 win over Florida.

    Curry was down 1-2 in the count before McGee threw in the dirt and way high to run it full. With the pro-TCU crowd on its feet -- some chanting "T-C-U! T-C-U!" -- Curry put a big swing on the next pitch. He watched for a moment and turned to teammates in the first-base dugout, shaking clenched fists at them.

    "I knew it could be my last college at-bat, and I was definitely going to go up and battle," Curry said. "I got a curveball early in the count and just missed it and fouled it back. He threw another one, and I didn't miss that one at all."

    Curry said he asked Holt the next inning why he acted as if he would make a play on the ball. Holt said he couldn't see the ball in the twilight and that he was hoping that the ball might bounce off the fence. That never became an issue, but his charade fooled the Frogs and their coach.

    "I almost dropped to my knees in tears," Jim Schlossnagle said.

    Ultimately, it was Florida State (48-20) that was disappointed. The Seminoles, without a national title in 20 CWS appearances, went 1-2 this year after bumbling in the field and blowing their big lead.

    "Being up 7-3, with six outs, five outs left, you're definitely expecting to win the game," Johnson said. "When that (eight-run inning) happened, it felt like we couldn't get out of that inning. We were just stuck on the field. Not a good feeling."

    The Seminoles loaded the bases against Kaleb Merck with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Merck struck out Johnson and then got McGee to line out softly to second base.

    Merck pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, bringing a horde of jumping Frogs out of the dugout in celebration.

    Erik Miller (1-1) got two outs for the win.

    McGee (4-1), who lasted just a third of an inning, took the loss.

    Florida State jumped on Mountain West pitcher of the year Steven Maxwell early. Johnson and McGee hit back-to-back homers in the first inning and James Ramsey tripled in the go-ahead run in the third. Maxwell, the Minnesota Twins' 12th-round draft pick, allowed four runs on six hits in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest outing in 12 starts.

    Florida State starter John Gast gave up two unearned runs on three hits in three innings.

    Martin said he was honored to be part of the last CWS that will be played at Rosenblatt Stadium, and he hopes to bring his team back to the new TD Ameritrade Park downtown.

    "Thanks for a great run at Rosenblatt," he said, "and I sure want to see ya next year at TD Ameritrade."