TCU Baseball got another stellar start from Russell Smith, who need very little of the impressive run support he received in Tuesday night’s victory over Stephen F Austin in Fort Worth. The Lumberjacks, who have had TCU’s number under Jim Schlossangle, got blown out of the building thanks to timely hitting and a trove of walks issues by SFA pitchers.
The Jacks struck first in the top of the first, after a lead off double off of Russell Smith came around to score. But TCU took a lead, one they would not surrender, in the bottom of the first, and never looked back. The Frogs turned five hits into five runs in the bottom of the first inning, using the juice of an updated lineup to get the offensive party started. Colton Parrish got the start behind the plate for TCU and held the leadoff spot of the lineup, making Schlossnagle’s decision look good when he opened the game with a single through the left side. That was followed by a Josh Watson walk, and after an AJ Balta strikeout, Michael Landestoy started a string of five straight Frogs reaching base with a single. Connor Wanhanen, the ninth batter of the inning plated the fifth run of the frame with a sac fly, before Parrish flied out in his second at bat of the first.
As Smith cruised, TCU continued to pile on. Two runs in the fourth stretched the lead to 7-1, as back to back doubles by Landestoy and Rizer scored two more. Where things really got ugly for the Jacks was the fifth, when the Frogs scored seven times on just two hits. It was all kinds of ugly for SFA, who walked six batters in the frame, and were victimized by a bases loaded bases clearing triple by Conner Shepherd. SFA tried to rally in the top of the sixth, getting a two out, two run home run off of Smith, the only time he was truly touched up. The freshman had one of his best outings of the season, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out six, and walking just one across six innings of work. Augie Mihlbauer relieved him in the seventh and struggled a bit, allowing three straight singles to score a run and loading the bases on a hit by pitch. But he minimized the damage, allowing just two runs, and kept things firmly in control as the Frogs led 15-5 after 6.5.
Trey Morris worked around a hit and a walk in the eighth, got the first two outs of the ninth, and then turned things over to Dion Henderson, who made his long-awaited TCU debut. The redshirt freshman, who missed 2017 due to injury, had been dealing with injury again to start 2018, and finally got his turn on the bump Tuesday night. Henderson fell behind his lone batter of the night 3-0, but placed two nice strikes before getting the swinging K to end the inning and the ball game.
In all, TCU finished with an impressive 15 runs on 13 hits, with the scoring helped significantly by the 13 walks issued by seven SFA pitchers. For their part, the Frogs struck out just six times and left eight runners on base. Five Frogs had multi-hit games, and four had multiple RBIs, led by Conner Shepherd’s four. Balta and Landestoy plated three apiece, while Rizer knocked in a pair. Eight of nine starters hit safely, and all nine reach based. TCU was 1-1 in steals as well.
The win is huge coming ahead of the biggest series of the season, when TCU welcomes in Texas Tech for a three game set over the weekend. The two rivals face off beginning Friday night, with first pitch set for 8:00pm.