The Horned Frogs once again looked like the team we expected them to be this weekend. Accomplishing the sweep of Oklahoma State marks a first for the Frogs since they began playing in the Big 12, and it positions TCU nicely at 5-1 in the Big 12 standings.
For the second game in a row, the Frogs got on top early. That hasn’t happened enough so far this year, but now things are trending in the right direction. Warner got things started in the bottom of the first with a one out single and stole second before a strikeout by Skoug gave the Cowboys two away. Luken Baker made them pay for the free base as he singled Warner home to put the Frogs up 1-0.
The Cowboys tied things up 1-1 in the top of the third, but a home run from Cam Warner in the bottom of the frame put TCU back on top for good. The homer was Warner’s second of the year. In the bottom of the fourth Merrill hit a one-out, ground-rule double and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice from Austen Wade. He scored a batter later on an error by OSU third baseman Garrett Benge to make it 3-1 Frogs.
Brown collected a single and a stolen base in the fifth, scoring another run for the Frogs on a two-out single from Ryan Merrill to put the Frogs up 4-1. In the sixth TCU added one more insurance run when Skoug singled to left field with runners on first and second. Two Oklahoma State outfielders collided on what was a catchable ball, and both went down hard on the play. That allowed Austen Wade to score from second base to make it 5-1.
Brain Howard had his best performance of the season today, going seven innings on 119 pitches and allowing just one run on three hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. The one run, coming in the third inning, was even kind of a fluke. The inning should have been over on an easy 6-4-3 double play ball, but Connor Wanhanen started running into the dugout thinking the inning was over and was not in position to get the out at first.
The Cowboys went on to score a run in that inning due to a miscommunication on a fly ball to shallow center fell in as Cam Warner got in the way of center fielder Nolan Brown with both players trying to make the play. Howard still didn’t have control of all of his pitches to the point that we saw during his 4-0 postseason run last year, but he is clearly figuring things out and got it done today in a big way.
Ryan Burnett came on to start the eighth inning in relief of Brian Howard and gave the Frogs one scoreless inning, facing just four batters and allowing one hit in that inning. He came back to start the ninth and gave up two straight singles before Jake Eissler came in to settle things down. He held the Cowboys hitless and got a strikeout and a couple of fly outs to secure the victory and notch his first career save.
TCU will host UT Rio Grand Valley for a two game mid-week series at Lupton on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Manhattan, Kansas next weekend to take on Kansas State in what will be their first road series of Big 12 play.