TCU got out to a hot start Friday night in Austin, jumping on Texas starter Chase Shugart for three first inning runs. But the bats went cold from then, as TCU went eight innings without scoring, going hitless for four straight frames at one point, as the Horns battled back to tie things up and eventually defeat the Frogs in a pivotal series-clinching win.
Some wildness from Shugart got the TCU offense rolling, as the starter walked in the first run of the game. After Coby Boulware struck out as the leadoff man, Josh Watson doubled and AJ Balta singled to put two on with one out. Michael Landestoy walked to load the bases, and Johnny Rizer drew a free pass immediately behind him to make it a 1-0 ball game. The big play of the game came on Connor Wanhanen’s two-out ground ball to third, as the throw was off line, skidding to the fence, and allowing two more runs to score to make it a 3-0 TCU advantage.
Jake Eissler looked good at the start, working around a lead-off single in the first and striking out the side in the second. He gave up his first run of the ball game in the fourth, as the red-hot Kody Clemens had the first of two big hits across two frames, leading off the inning with a double. He scored two batters later, after back to back singles, to make it a 3-1 game. Clemens did more damage in the fifth, as he rocked a two run shot to right after a one out triple. It wouldn’t be the last time he sent one over the fence in a big spot. That ended the Eiss-man’s night, as he finished having allowed three runs on his hits with five Ks and a base on balls. Sean Wymer came on in relief and was nails, pitching four innings of scoreless, one hit ball, and striking out six, before turning things over to freshman Augie Mihlbauer with one out in the ninth.
The Frogs had a good shot in the top of the ninth of pushing across a run, but stranded two runners after getting a walk and a hit by pitch with one out. TCU stranded ten runners on the evening, compared to Texas’ eight, and was just 1-14 with runners in scoring position. The Frogs had just seven hits against the trio of Shugart, Sawyer, and McGuire, striking out eight times in total and walking just four.
Wymer was rolling, and certainly capable of finishing the game. But Saarloos and Mosiello, acting as manager as Jim Schlossnagle missed his first ever game (his son was graduating high school Friday evening), did the baseball thing, removing a hot hand in favor of the matchups with three straight lefties due up. Unfortunately for Augie and TCU, one of them was Clemens.
Augie got a quick second out, but the pivotal play came a batter later when the speedy Duke Ellis beat the pitcher by a half step on a ground ball deep in the hole at first. Connor Wanhanen made a great diving stop, but was just a little too deep to get the ball to first in time to get the out. That brought Clemens to the plate, and he delivered again, this time in the form of a two run, walk off blast to right that ended the game and secured a series win.
The loss all but end’s the Frogs’ at-large bid chances, as slim as they previously were, and now TCU will need to win the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City next week to have any shot of continuing their season. The Frogs will have an uphill battle as the likely sixth seed, with plenty of teams in the league getting hot at the right time. For the Longhorns, they will go into Saturday’s finale with a chance to earn a share or more of the Big 12 regular season championship.