The Frogs upped their road record to 3-3 in Big 12 play with the series win over Kansas this weekend. They are 24-7 on the year and 6-3 in conference. While the Frogs were struggling to put away Kansas, Texas Tech was busy sweeping Oklahoma State in Stillwater to improve their conference record to 11-1. It's going to be a tough uphill climb to catch them, and even though we get to play them at Lupton, we need to establish better play on the road if we still hope to repeat as Big 12 regular season champions.
TCU was in a really tough situation Saturday and Sunday, having to try to win the final two games of the series without their most reliable weekend starter. Brian Howard was expected by everyone to start in his usual Saturday role, but was a late scratch and that ended up putting the game in the hands of freshman Dalton Horton. Horton, in just his second weekend start, looked incredible. He threw seven scoreless innings, allowing only five hits, and he and Preston Guillory combined to pitch the Frogs' sixth shutout of the season.
Today, still sans Howard, TCU was forced to start freshman Sean Wymer. In what was only Wymer's second start of the season he gave up two runs in one inning of work. He didn't look that bad, but given the necessity of winning this game and the strength of TCU's bullpen, that one inning was all he would end up throwing. The Frogs went to Trieglaff to start the second and he earned the win, going 3 2/3 innings in which he allowed four runs on eight hits. Kansas was really aggressive early on, and TCU just isn't the same as it was the last couple of years in terms of their execution. Those CWS teams played almost perfect in the field, and they forced other teams to play perfect themselves if they were going to have any hope of winning the day. This team is just young and they do make mistakes. They had two errors today. They just have such a dangerous lineup that more often than not their mistakes aren't going to matter.
This is the "gaining experience" portion of the year, so these mistakes are going to happen. It's frustrating when they cause us to lose games against not-so-good Texas and Kansas, but it's going to be heartbreaking at some point later in the season if they can't manage to learn from these mistakes now. Also frustrating is the fear that Brian Howard could be injured just when we were close to expecting Traver to re-enter the lineup. Hopefully Howard's scratch this weekend wasn't because he is hurt, but if it is the Frogs could be in for some rough sledding facing the two best teams in the Big 12 over the next few weeks.
TCU opened up the game with back-to-back hits from Wade and Warner before promptly getting two fly outs and a groundout from the heart of the order. Back up to start the second the Frogs were down 2-0 and once again, they opened up the inning with two straight singles from Watson and Wanhanen. Wanhanen scored Watson with his single and Merrill and Warner also had RBI singles to help TCU take a 3-2 lead early. Kansas scored a run in each of the second and third innings, both the result of two-out rallies, to retake the lead 4-3.
It was a little nerve-racking to see that 4-3 score that has plagued TCU in their last two losses, but thankfully that only persisted for the next inning or so until the offense exploded for eight runs in the fifth. Barzilli opened up the fifth with a double and the bases were loaded with no outs after Kansas hit Watson and walked Wanhanen. In the next two at bats Steinhagen scored all three base runners with a double and Merrill followed that up with a two run homer. Not bad for the bottom of the lineup. Back-to-back doubles from Wade and Warner added another run and Skoug finished up the scoring with a two-run homer of his own.
Kansas made it a five-run game putting up two more of their own against Trieglaff in the bottom of the fifth, but Ryan Burnett relieved him with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to allow TCU to coast to a 14-6 win. Even though Trieglaff gave up four runs today, he has still become the kind of reliever that can come in and totally change the momentum of a game. Everybody gets lit up every now and then, but I still feel like we can count on him as much as anyone on this pitching staff when needed.
TCU gets Dallas Baptist at home on Tuesday night and then they host a struggling Oklahoma team at Lupton next weekend. The Frogs are 7-3 in their last 10 games right now. At their worst, on Saturday, they were 6-4 in their last 10. If that's the low point of our season I'll take it 10 times out of 10, but with the goals this program has set for itself that won't be good enough to get it done. Horton is progressing really well as a starter, so hopefully Brian Howard is okay and we're about to see this team get healthy and turn the corner. Next weekend's performance against the Sooners, who have an RPI upwards of 100, will tell us a lot about what our expectations should be going forward.