TCU Baseball’s NEGU Attitude showed back up Sunday afternoon, as the Frogs battled bat from a big early deficit to make it an entertaining finish in the series finale against Grand Canyon University. Unfortunately, they fell just short of the sweep, falling in the bottom of the 12th.
Luken Baker made a surprising return to the lineup Sunday, after missing Saturday’s game due to a cut above his eye suffered Friday night. He made his presence felt early, getting the game’s first hit in the first inning on a single through the left side. Both team’s had a first inning hit, but neither did anything with it, as we went scoreless through the first two frames.
GCU got on the board first, just as they did Friday, as they touched up Sean Wymer with a single and a double for the game’s first run. The Frogs’ answered in the top of the fourth though, and it took just one swing from Luken Baker to tie things up.
He didn't miss that one. Baker's first home run of the season was a sight to behold. #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/BLccGZracr— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) February 18, 2018
The Antelopes weren’t done though, taking the lead back in the bottom of the frame. After two quick outs, Wymer allowed back to back singles, putting GCU back on top 2-1. The Lopes broke things open with a big bottom of the fifth, turning three hits and an error into four runs and a 6-1 lead. Quiggle led off with a single, and the Lopes elected to bunt him over. Another single put runners on the corners with just one out, but it looked like Wymer was going to get out of trouble when he induced a ground ball to short. Unfortunately, Adam Oviedo couldn’t handle the bouncer, pushing another run across and putting runners at first and second. A three run shot to right by Cody Bess made it a 6-1 game, and it appeared to not be TCU’s day. That ended Sean Wymer’s day, as the junior went 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits with five Ks and no walks in his first career start.
But these are the Cardiac Frogs, and there is no such thing as out of reach for this team.
Haylen Green came out of the pen and shut GCU down, retiring all six batters he faced and striking out four in the process. His pitching kept the Frogs in the game, and they were able to chip away. It started with a single run in the sixth, when the Lopes made the decision to pull freshman pitching Nick Hull, who had dominated the Frogs to the tune of 5.0 innings of four hit ball, with just the one Luken Baker bomb showing up on the scoreboard. TCU, apparently relieved to see a new face staring down at them from the bump, opened up the sixth with a Connor Wanhanen single up the middle. After Baker flied out, Watson singled for his first hit of the day, and AJ Balta followed with a double down the right field line to plate Wanny - but Coach Mo chose to hold Josh Watson up at third. The one run is all the Frogs would get in that inning, but after another good effort by Green, TCU’s offense woke up in a big way in the top of the seventh.
A leadoff walk by Conner Shepherd started things off, and Michael Landestoy picked up his second hit of the day immediately thereafter. Coby Boulware hit into a fielder’s choice to eliminate the lead runner, but Wanhanen loaded things up by taking one for the team. TCU made it a three one lead on a balk call, and Baker reached on a walk to load them back up for Watson. Watson grounded out to second to plate run number five, and the Frogs tied things up on an error on Humphreys’ bouncer to third.
Neither team could do anything on offense through regulation, as TCU leaned on Cal Coughlin and Durbin Feltman to get them through the ninth. TCU had the heart of the order come up in the tenth, but Wanhanen, Baker, and Watson went down in order. Feltman, meanwhile, struck out four of the batters he faced, issuing the first walk of the day by a Frog pitcher in the bottom of the tenth, but not allowing a hit in two innings of work.
TCU had a golden opportunity in the top of the eleventh, but their aggressiveness came back to bite them. AJ Balta led off the inning with a single, but was caught stealing in front of Adam Oviedo’s single. Conner Shepherd followed with a double, his first hit of the series, which would have scored Balta easily. Instead, Oviedo was held at third - the second time a runner went conservative in a big spot - and the Frogs couldn’t get a run across despite the three hits. In the bottom of the frame, Charles King made his season debut, and after taking a ball off the upper shoulder, settled in to get two more quick outs.
Finally, in the top of the twelfth, the Frogs got something going on offense, with the help of three consecutive walks. Wanhanen walked on four straight balls, and Baker followed on five. Watson got ahead 3-1, and GCU chose to give him the free pass with first base open due to a wild pitch. With the bases loaded, Humphreys hit a hot shot to left that dropped in for a single, but it was hit so hard only one run scored. Adam Oviedo drew an RBI walk after AJ Balta popped up, and the Frogs left the top of the 12th leading 8-6.
But, it wasn’t going to be easy for TCU. Conner Shepherd opened the inning with an error at third, putting the leadoff runner on. An infield single, on a ball Boulware appeared to have a backhand play on, put two on with no outs. The Lopes loaded the bases on a single to right, and got within one run on Evans’ single. They tied things up a batter later on a hit that was to nearly the exact same spot as the one before, forcing the Frogs to go to the pen - bringing in Austin Boyles for Charles King.
Boyles was nails... getting a groundout and a strikeout to nearly get the Frogs out of trouble and give them another chance. But, a grounder back to the mound tied him up, and Boyles threw wide of Landestoy on a ball that would have sent us to a 13th frame, but ultimately, led to a 9-8 loss.
But, there’s plenty to be excited about after this three game set - the Frogs earned a series win on the road, got some great play in the field and at the plate from some new guys, and saw the return to form of Luken Baker and Josh Watson. Connor Wanhanen, Zach Humphreys, and Michael Landestoy had big games as well, and for the most part, the pitching was really good, especially out of the pen.
The Frogs return to Fort Worth for their home opener Tuesday night, when they welcome in cross-town rival UTA.