TCU jumped out to an early lead in the second inning as a Howard was in command on the mound and the Frogs loaded the bases with walks by Skoug and Brown around a single by Warner. While they had a chance to really take control at that point, they only managed one run from the opportunity to go up 1-0 with two strikeouts around and RBI fly out from Merrill.
After issuing a walk and falling victim to and error in the first, Brian Howard was on a roll through the next 3 2⁄3 innings. At the end of the fourth inning he had five Ks and had retired 11 straight batters without allowing a hit. Things began to unravel though after the Sun Devils homered to lead off the fifth. Howard allowed two more run on a pair of hits before closing out the third, and that put Arizona State up 3-1.
The Sun Devils added on another run in the top of the sixth and Barzilli answered that with a solo home run in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-2. The Frogs bats were held in check a bit for most of the night by ASU starting pitcher Eli Lingos. The lefty allowed two runs on just two hits through his six innings of work, throwing 101 pitches while striking out eight and walking three.
Had TCU kept it close, their seven-run rally in the eighth and ninth innings probably would have been enough to earn a victory, but mistakes by the Horned Frogs allowed the Sun Devils to put the game too far out of reach with two runs in the seventh, three runs in the eighth and four runs in the ninth. A two-out error by Josh Watson in left allowed the two unearned runs to score in the seventh, and things went downhill from there.
On top of four total errors by the Frogs tonight, Landestoy dropped a catchable pop fly in foul territory in the eighth and Barzilli let a ball slip out of his hand trying to tag a runner in the ninth. The Frogs changed pitchers three times in the sixth inning as they searched for stability in relief of Howard, and what stability they found was made ineffective by the errors.
TCU looked unfocused at times, especially in the field in this game. When they finally realized that they were in a fight, it was too late. As impressive a hitting display as they put on in the last two innings, which included solo home runs from Landestoy and Wade as well as a two-run blast from Luken Baker, they had already dug themselves into too deep a hole.
The positive takeaway from this is that in the last couple of innings, this team showed how capable they are of late-inning heroics. Next time they just need to keep the game in reach until then. The Frogs will get a chance to even up the series tomorrow in Game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00pm.