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TCU Baseball Blasts OU 11-3, Wins Series Opener

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TCU broke the Friday curse tonight and got a much-needed win in the series opener on the strength of great pitching by Luken Baker and a six-run fourth inning from the offense.

Baker pitched six innings tonight, earning the win agaisnt OU to move to 3-1 on the season
Baker pitched six innings tonight, earning the win agaisnt OU to move to 3-1 on the season
GoFrogs.com

TCU got back to business tonight offensively, putting up six runs in the fourth inning to bury Oklahoma in the opening game of a three game series. The win moves TCU to 25-8 on the year and 7-3 in Big 12 play. OU falls to 18-16-1 on the season and 4-6 in Big 12 play with the loss. The win tonight was big because, and I've been trying to avoid saying this, we need to sweep OU this weekend.

You always want to sweep team, you just don't want to need to sweep them. But at this point Texas Tech just hasn't given us any choice. With the Red Raiders stilling atop the conference at 11-1, the Frogs need to sweep to keep pace. We need the sweep this weekend because our next two series are against two of the best teams in the Big 12, OSU and Tech. It's hard to sweep in Stillwater, and Tech has Texas at home next weekend who they very well could sweep. The bottom line is that if TCU loses one conference game between now and the Tech series (assuming they sweep UT), the Frogs would have to sweep the Red Raiders in Lubbock just to tie them at 14-4 in conference play and have the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.

Jim Schlossnagle said today in the pre-game interview that his goal every year is to win 40 games and make it to the postseason. As of tonight we have 21 games left to play in the regular season. That means if we want to win 40 games, the worst we can do going forward is 15-6. That record likely isn't going to win us the Big 12 as things stand now, but it's just another target to keep in mind.

All that being said, tonight's performance was encouraging. Luken Baker and Sean Wymer combined to let up only four hits and three runs (one earned) to the Sooners in a performance that keeps TCU's bullpen, and their chances to win these next two games, in a good situation. TCU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of an Austen Wade single and a two-run bomb by Evan Skoug, who was 4-4 on the night. The home run was Skoug's sixth of the season and by the end of the night he had five RBIs and was just a triple short of hitting for the cycle. What's even more amazing is that almost all of Skoug's home runs have come over the last six weeks. In that time he has launched himself into second place on the team in homers and he's way ahead of the rest of the lineup in terms of total extra base hits.

Luken Baker pitched a full six innings tonight, throwing 97 pitches and earning his third win (3-1) of the season. He gave up two runs in the second and one in the fifth, but he really only pitched poorly in that fifth inning. The second inning should have been a 1-2-3 outcome for Baker, but a two-out error opened the door for OU to score two unearned runs and tie it up at 2-2. Baker's final line was 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 4 K, 3 BB.

TCU added one run in the third inning to take a 3-2 lead before taking a commanding lead with their six-run fourth. In that fourth inning Watson worked a lead off walk, setting up the rest of the lineup for six runs on six straight hits from Wanhanen (single), Steinhagen (single), Merrill (single), Wade (single), Warner (double) and Skoug (double). Sean Wymer came on to start the seventh and pitched three innings of one hit baseball while striking out two and walking just one batter.

Alex Hansen came on to pitch for OU to start the fifth and held the Frogs in check for the next few innings, striking out seven batters and looking really sharp for the first time in a while. It was only a matter of time until the Frogs got to him though, as they added two more runs in the eighth on an RBI single from Luken Baker and a throwing error by OU. With nasty weather looming this Sunday, the series could likely come to an end in a double-header on Saturday. With plenty of fresh pitchers in the bullpen and the prospect of Brian Howard getting back in action tomorrow, the Frogs are in a good position to get that much-needed sweep.