OMAHA—Lost, or at least buried, amid TCU's eight-run rally in Wednesday night's thrilling 11-7 win over Florida State was a close play at second base. Had it gone against the Horned Frogs, the uprising would have ended before another exciting chapter in College World Series history could be written.
TCU catcher Bryan Holaday stepped to the plate with two outs and runners at the corners in the eighth inning and slugged a pitch from Florida State's Mike McGee that carried to the left-field wall. Teammate Brance Rivera could have walked home from third base. Jerome Pena easily made it from first to third. And then there was Holaday.
"All I was thinking about was getting to second base because we wanted to get the tying run in scoring position," said Holaday, whose team still trailed by two when Rivera touched the plate.
But Florida State's Sean Gilmartin, who had just come into the game when McGee came in from left field to pitch, played the ball well off the wall. Gilmartin made a strong throw to shortstop Stephen Cardullo, who wheeled and saw Holaday huffing and puffing midway between first and second. Cardullo immediately fired the ball to second baseman Devon Travis.
"The ball definitely beat me there," said Holaday. "I was just doing anything I could to get there. I put a good slide on and deked him with my left hand. When he went for the swipe, I tried to come around with my right hand and sneak it in there. It worked."
Said Travis: "I missed him. I missed him . . . I tried selling it, but he was in there."
There was one last thing Holaday had to concern himself with after the slide—a safe call from second base umpire Jim Jackson.
"Obviously, it can go either way when the ball beats you there because the umpires are always pretty quick to call you out," said Holaday. "He stuck with it, did a good job and made a great call."
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle added emphasis: "The umpire had the wherewithal and was patient enough to make the call."
And the stage was set for TCU's Matt Curry to provide the most dramatic moment of the series.