OMAHA, Neb. — In hindsight, Tim Tadlock will blame himself.
He always does.
It was ultimately the Texas Tech coach’s call to pull Chris Sadberry from the mound and his decision to make two defensive switches that ended up allowing TCU to rally for a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park on Sunday.
“Now we can go hindsight and say why didn’t we leave him in and can blame the idiot manager,” Tadlock said. “We had decided before we even scored the runs (to remove him). He was right at 100 pitches, and rarely do these guys go past 100. He had done everything he could do to put us in a position to win the game.”
The loss sends the Red Raiders to the losers’ bracket, where they face Ole Miss at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Mississippi lost to Virginia, 2-1.
“I think the simplest thing is we will have a decent starter on Tuesday,” Tadlock said. “I don’t think you can go through the losers’ bracket and talk about winning the whole thing. We just have to worry about playing a solid game on Tuesday.”
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead, Jonny Drozd relieved Sadberry, Zach Davis came in to play right field and Alec Humphreys took over for Bryant Burleson at second base.
On a sharp hit up the middle by TCU center fielder Cody Jones, Humphreys ranged deep to his left to field a ball, but chose to throw to first base, despite not being set.
His throw was wide of first base, allowing Keaton Jones to score and tie the game. A batter later, TCU left fielder Boomer White then hit a frozen rope to left field and gave TCU the final lead, 3-2.
“All I knew was if I could get one to the infield, Cody’s going to score,” White said. “… I knew right before I walked up, Kyle (Bacak) told me ‘If you ever see the seams, the two-seam looks like a change-up coming in.’ And he threw it up there, and I stayed on it just enough to get a good piece of it.”
Relief pitching let TCU down in the eighth, as well. After Stephen Smith had a one-out single, TCU went to its bullpen, bringing in closer Riley Ferrell.
Ferrell, who came into the game with a 0.68 ERA, gave up a single to Anthony Lyons — a ball that was misplayed in the outfield and put Tech runners on first and second.
Then, Tyler Neslony hit a deep shot off the right field wall for a two-run triple that gave the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead.
“I knew once we got a couple of runs, that we had a lot of confidence in Jonny,” Neslony said. “It gave us some confidence, but that was just about it.”
TCU took the lead in the first inning when Jones led off the bottom of the first with a double, advanced on a ground out and then scored on a deep sacrifice fly off the bat of Kevin Cron.
Both pitchers cruised early, but Preston Morrison was dominant.
The TCU junior struck out eight through four innings and kept going from there. He finished with 71/3 innings pitched, gave up five hits, walked two and struck out 10.
“I thought Preston was outstanding,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “The worst game of his college career was probably against Tech in the first week of Big 12 play. I know there were probably a lot of eyebrows raised when we decided to go with Preston, but I felt like that was the best matchup.”
Sadberry was just as good, if not better.
The junior left-hander pitched seven innings, gave up three hits and struck out five.
“I just go into every game and not give up any runs,” Sadberry said. “That does not always happen and I knew it was going to be a close game, and I am a little frustrated with myself not being as sharp (as I would have liked) in the first inning.”
Tech attempted to make a final rally by putting two runners on base in the ninth following a Tim Proudfoot one-out single and then a TCU fielding error with two outs in the frame. The Red Raiders finished with eight runners left on base overall.
Tadlock did not name a starter for the Red Raiders’ game Tuesday.
Instead, he shifted the focus onto the preparation and how the team was going to rebound.
“It is a tough way to lose your first game up here,” Tadlock said. “At the same time, we won’t look back and will get ready to play on Tuesday.”