Brandon Williamson was very good on Sunday for TCU Baseball, and the offense delivered in crunch time to propel the Frogs to their first Big 12 series win on the road of the season with a 6-4 victory over Oklahoma.
For the first time all weekend, the Horned Frogs struck first, jumping out to a 3-0 advantage after the first half inning, thanks to Johnny Rizer’s second home run of the weekend. The junior center fielder, whose ninth inning long ball Friday night temporarily tied things up in the ninth, launched one down the right field line to put TCU on the board. The three run shot brought home Austin Henry and Jake Guenther, both of whom had drawn two out walks.
The Sooners got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first, as a leadoff walk and a wild pitch came back to haunt Brandon Williamson. It would be one of just two runs allowed all day by the Frogs starter, who was sharp after struggling against Oklahoma State a week prior.
Another two out walk led to another two out run in the second, as Guenther brought home Hunter Wolfe with an RHI single to left to make it 4-1 Frogs. A leadoff double in the bottom of the third would make it 4-2 TCU, but it would be the last time the Sooners threatened until the final frame as Williamson and the Frogs’ pen settled in nicely.
Williamson went 6.0 strong on Sunday, allowing just the two runs on five hits, walking a pair and striking out five. He was sharp all game, keeping a potent OU offense from doing too much damage and keeping the Frogs out in front.
TCU added a few insurance runs in the top of the seventh, using some smart base running to take advantage of some wild Sooner pitching. Guenther led off the frame with a single, and after a couple of fly outs, Alex Isola wore one to put two on with two outs. A well executed double steal put runners on second and third - it was Guenther’s ninth swipe of third base of the season - and it would prove crucial, as he scored the fifth run of the game on a wild pitch one play later. Zach Humphreys worked a full count before being hit in the back himself, and Conner Shepherd singled through the right side a batter later to make it 6-2.
Jake Eissler relieved Williamson in the bottom of the eighth and was excellent out of the pen once again, keeping the Sooners off the scoreboard while allowing just one hits and striking out two. He got in a little trouble in the eighth, putting one on with two down via a walk before closing the frame with a strikeout.
There was a little excitement in the top of the ninth off the bat of Rizer, who hit an absolute moonshot down the line and out to the street, but it was ruled foul. Schlossnagle called for a review, but with a lack of an ideal camera angle, the call stood. Rizer lined out to right a pitch later, and Isola struck out on three pitches to end the frame.
Cal Coughlin took over in the ninth, looking to get back on track after a tough start to the year. Coughlin’s last two appearances were of the one batter variety, and each time he got the hitter out. After striking out the first batter he faced, Coughlin walked the second batter he faced on a full count, and fell behind the third, missing badly on his first pitch. That drew a visit from Kirk Saarloos and got Angie Mihlbauer up in the TCU pen. It didn’t seem to help, as Coughlin went down 3-0 on three bad misses. A four pitch walk drew the hook, and Mihlbauer came on in a two on, one out situation. After getting out number two on a liner to center, Augie fell behind 3-1 to Diego Muniz, and Schloss puller the sophomore after a wild pitch allowed both base runners to advance. Notary came on needing just two strikes or one out, and delivered a first pitch strike to make it a full count. But a double brought home a pair of runs and made it a 6-4 game, bringing the tying run to the plate. Notary settled in though, inducing a groundout to third to end the game and secure the series win.
Coughlin’s issue is an unusual one; the junior has been one of the most dynamic and reliable pitchers out of the pen for Schloss, posting sub-2.00 ERAs in each of his first two seasons. He had not walked more than 11 batters in any season, but has nine already this year. Coming into the game, his ERA sat at a hefty 9.82 in just 7.1 innings of work. There’s also a question to ask about Mihlbauer - Schloss’s hook has been tight on the talented lefty, who seems to have little room for error. Once considered a contender to close, one has to wonder where his confidence level is at this point. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Only Guenther and Shepherd has two hits for the Frogs, and TCU batters struck out nine times. They did draw six walks though, and took three hit by pitches - the free passes made a huge difference in the game. The series win is a huge one for the Frogs, as it allowed TCU to pass OU in the standings for fourth place and helps them keep pace with the conference leads. The Frogs will stay on the road for a Tuesday night date with DBU before welcoming Seton Hall to Lupton next weekend for a three game, non conference set.