Poche’s blunders costly in LSU’s 10-3 loss to TCU at CWS
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Jared Poche’ couldn’t have pitched much better the first three innings for LSU. And then his day, and his team’s, unraveled on what should have been a couple of routine plays.
Poche’s two blown throws to first base let TCU go ahead in the fourth inning, and the lead widened as he struggled again in the fifth. The Tigers never recovered in a 10-3 loss at the College World Series on Sunday.
“It’s amazing. I’ve been in this game a long time, and sometimes you see things you haven’t seen all year, or for years,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “We had a couple misplays there, they got a couple of clutch hits and things spiraled out of control.”
The Tigers (53-11) meet Vanderbilt or Cal State Fullerton in a Bracket 2 elimination game on Tuesday afternoon. The Horned Frogs (50-13) will play a winners’ game against one of those teams.
LSU, in the CWS for the 17th time, showed up as the No. 2 national seed and 5-0 in the NCAA Tournament. Poche’ came in having allowed one run in his previous 16 1/3 innings.
The Tigers cruised along nicely for three innings, with Poche’ (9-2) striking out the side in the first and retiring the next six batters. Then, his stunning meltdown.
In the fourth, Cody Jones hit a chopper back to Poche’ leading off and wound up on third when Poche’ overthrew first baseman Chris Chinea. Then, Jeremie Fagnan sent a comebacker to Poche’, who looked Jones back at third before pulling Chinea off the bag with another high throw, putting runners at the corners. Connor Wanhanen and Dane Steinhagen followed with RBI singles.
“He comes out in the first inning with all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, and he strikes out the side and gets nine up, nine down and should have had 11 up, 11 down,” Mainieri said. “The next two batters hit feeble groundballs right back to him and he didn’t execute the play.”
Poche’ couldn’t explain his struggle to make the routine throw to first.
“I’m not sure why I lobbed it like that,” he said. “If I could do it again, I’d set my feet and hit him in his chest.”
In the fifth, TCU loaded the bases against Poche’ on two walks and a single. Conner Hale booted a grounder at third, allowing one run to score, and Poche’ plunked Fagnan, bringing home another. Connor Wanhanen’s single drove in two more to put the Frogs up 6-1 run and end Poche’s day.
TCU extended its lead to 10-1 in the seventh, batting around against three relievers and scoring four runs, all coming with two outs.
TCU’s Preston Morrison (12-2) won for the first time in nine NCAA Tournament starts, pitching seven dominant innings.
“He’s the best pitcher in the history of the school, bar none, and he’s pitched great in the postseason throughout his entire career,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He hasn’t had a lot to show for it because when you’re in the postseason, you’re facing another great pitcher.”
Morrison, whose 37 career wins are the most of any active Division I pitcher, limited LSU to five hits and one run. He walked none, struck out five and retired the last 12 batters he faced.
“The most important thing for me was getting another step closer to our ultimate goal, the national championship,” Morrison said.
Morrison threw strikes on 63 of his 89 pitches, but Schlossnagle took him out to start the eighth. Brian Howard came on and gave up Jared Foster’s drive into the left-field bullpen. It was the third home run in three CWS games, matching last year’s 16-game total.