Garrett Crain was running toward third base with the ball in front of him. The TCU senior second baseman kept going all the way to the College World Series.
Crain scored from second base on an error in the 16th inning and the Horned Frogs are going to Omaha for the second year in a row after a 5-4 win over Texas A&M in a game that ended early Tuesday morning.
"The 16th inning, you have to try and force something. If that's the seventh of eighth inning, and that's the game-tying run or winning run like it was, maybe you don't do that," Crain said. "Being what it was, we have to score a run."
Crain drew a leadoff walk off Ryan Hendrix (6-4), the third time in extra innings TCU's No. 9 hitter led off and got on base. He got to second on a wild pitch with two outs, and scored when Evan Skoug hit a hard chopper on which third baseman Ronnie Gideon made a backhanded try.
The ball was briefly in his glove, and Skoug was credited with a single. But Crain rounded third after the ball dropped to the ground, even with third-base coach Bill Mosiello telling him to stop, and scored as Gideon threw wildly by the plate.
"That was just hard to watch, kind of slow motion," Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress said. "Don't field it cleanly there at third, and we've got to make a rush throw, a tough throw, tough chance, tough pick and try to apply a tag. It's hard to swallow."
Crain crossed the plate right at 1 a.m., ending a game that took 5 hours, 55 minutes to play and finally give the Horned Frogs (49-13) the eighth and final spot in the College World Series.
"In 25 years of coaching, that's the best baseball game that I've ever been part of," TCU Coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "One of the greatest college baseball games ever. Had to be, considering what's on the line."
The Horned Frogs are going to Omaha for the third time in six seasons, and each time has needed a deciding third game in the super regional to advance. They won at Texas in 2010, and beat Pepperdine at home last season.
Mitchell Traver (9-2), the seventh TCU pitcher, struck out six over four innings in only his second relief appearance this season.
Michael Barash and Nick Banks homered for Texas A&M (50-14), the only of the five SEC teams that made it to super regionals that won't be at the College World Series.