Jerome Leads Frogs To C-USA Tournament Championship
May 30, 2004
Houston, Texas - The 2004 TCU Horned Frogs dominated in the championship game as they made their way through the loser's bracket to win their first-ever Conference USA Tournament Championship, defeating Southern Miss, 3-1. The win gave TCU their 38th win of the season, tying them for the most wins ever for a TCU squad. Clayton Jerome was masterful, shutting down the high-power Southern Miss offense en route to his ninth win of the season and 28th career victory. Robbie Findlay nailed it down to pick up his record-breaking 11th save of the season.
TCU got rolling early as they took the early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Bo Cogbill drew a one-out walk. Southern Miss starting pitching Cliff Russum struggled to find the strike zone, throwing two consecutive wild pitches, moving Cogbill to third base. Austin Adams, who has been on fire in the tournament, delivered the clutch two-out base hit to score Cogbill.
After a scoreless second inning, the Frogs extended their lead in the third inning. J.J. Estrada beat out a close play at first, opening the inning with a base knock. After Ramon Moses drew a walk, Cogbill dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up. Chad Huffman singled to center field and both runners scampered home to push the Frogs lead to 3-0.
Clayton Jerome (9-5) was masterful in his final regular season start. Jerome gave up a two-out single in the first inning, then retired the next 16 batters he faced. He ran into trouble in the seventh inning when Golden Eagle, Mark Maddox singled to start the inning. After a quick flyout, Brad Wilcutt singled to center, putting two runners on. Jerome bore down and struck out the final two Golden Eagles he faced, stranding the runners and keeping the score 3-0.
The Golden Eagles finally cracked the scoreboard in the eighth inning. Jason Lowery tripled to lead off the inning. Jerome struck out designated hitter Nathan Sanders for the third time before leaving the game and giving way to Robbie Findlay. Beau Griffin hit a sacrifice fly to plate the run, but Findlay struck out Matt Shepherd to end the inning.
Southern Miss tried to rally in the ninth as Maddox single to start the inning. Findlay induced a double play ball off the bat of Jarrett Hoffpauir. Brad Wilcutt extended the inning with a double, but Findlay got Ryan Frith to fly out to end the game.
With the victory, Jerome earned his 28th career win, which moved him into second place all-time in school history, passing Scott Atchison. He also moved into first place all-time in innings pitched. He has pitched 380.1 innings in his four years. He moved up to second on the all-time list for strikeouts when he struck out Nathan Sanders in the sixth inning. He currently has 311 K's in his career.
Conference USA announced the All-Tournament Team and TCU players monopolized seven of the spots on the roster: for the infield, Chris Neuman and Bo Cogbill; for the outfield, Austin Adams and Chad Huffman; for the pitchers, Ryan Weems, Eugene Espineli, and Clayton Jerome. Adams also batted his way to the C-USA Tournament MVP.
The Frogs (38-24) earned the automatic bid into the NCAA regionals, making the tournament for only the third time in school history and the first since 1994. The Frogs will find out who and where they play on Monday morning when the NCAA reveals the 64-team field on ESPN2 at 11:00 a.m.