It was a rough day for TCU Baseball all-around Sunday, as their bid for their first series sweep of the season well far short in a 15-2 thumping at the hands of the UC Irvine Anteaters.
Russell Smith got the start in place of Sean Wymer Sunday, and struggled in his first extended action of the season, going 3.2 innings and allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits. The big lefty, one of the more highly touted prospects to sign in the class of 2017, got the first two strikeouts of his TCU career and walked a pair as well, but fell behind most of the hitters he faced and needed 76 pitches (including a 33 pitch fourth) to record just 11 outs.
Smith exited with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, turning things over to Trey Morris, who walked the one batter he faced to allow a run to score. In all, seven runs would score in the decisive fourth frame, which was more than enough for Irvine pitcher Trenton Delholm, who threw an absolute gem.
Denholm absolutely befuddled the Frogs across 7.0 innings of work, holding the potent TCU offense to just four hits, striking out five, and walking just one. TCU never truly threatened - though they hit two doubles off of Denholm, he worked out of every instance where the Frogs had a runner in scoring position with ease. TCU could truly do nothing right on a drizzly afternoon at Lupton, committing two errors and misplaying four more balls that went in the books as hits but were plays we are accustomed to seeing TCU defenders make. Only Connor Wanhanen and Josh Watson did anything on offense, as both players had two hits, including a double, and Watson had one of the Frogs’ two RBI.
The Frogs used five pitchers on the day, and four of them allowed at least one run. Austin Boyles followed Morris, and pitched well until the sixth, when he got tagged for five earned runs on three hits, two walks, and a grand slam to left. It wasn’t all his fault though, a Tristan Hanoian - playing second for Coby Boulware - couldn’t handle a ground ball that could have led to a double-play that gave Irvine second life. Caleb Sloan followed Boyles and allowed five hits on 2.1 innings, as Irvine scored their 15th run in the eighth. Augie Milbauher closed things out and looked very good, allowing just one hit in 1.1 innings of work with a pair of strikeouts.
TCU was playing their fourth game in four days, and for a young, inexperienced team, that appeared to have worn them out. It’s a good learning experience for a unit that will have to grow up quickly if they want to make their fifth consecutive trip to Omaha, and while today wasn’t a good representative of the team they want to be, it’s no reason to give up on this team. The Frogs will be back to work Tuesday night for the final game of their eight game home stand, as they host UT Rio Grande Valley before heading for a three game west coast swing as part of the Dodger Classic. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.