Baseball doesn’t make sense.
That was the message in the Frogs O’ War Slack channel over the weekend, and there’s not a much better way to explain what happened over the weekend in Morgantown. TCU Baseball was just a little Morgantown Magic away from sweeping a series against one of the league’s hottest teams, falling in the finale at the hands of a couple of ninth-inning long balls.
But what the Frogs did Friday and Saturday showed that they may have figured things out a bit after enduring one of the worst stretches of the Jim Schlossnagle era, and maybe - just maybe - have gotten themselves back on the road to the postseason.
TCU pummeled the #17 Mountaineers Friday night to the tune of a 14-5 victory, as Nick Lodolo had a bounce-back performance of sorts in throwing six innings of five hit ball, only allowing three runs. But it was the offense that led the way, as the unit that Schloss has called championship-caliber certainly looked the part.
On Saturday, Charles King threw his second complete game in his last three starts, shutting down WVU while facing just 33 batters. He got plenty of run support, though he didn’t need it - Josh Watson hit the Frogs’ first leadoff home run since 2015, and TCU was in control from there.
Sweep Sunday started good for the Frogs, who led 4-1 through six and carried a one-score advantage into the ninth. But the Eers walked it off in dramatic fashion, taking advantage of an error and hitting one over the fence on a full count and down to their final out.
Ultimately, it’s a series win on the road, and while the problems haven’t disappeared, it at least appears they’re figuring things out.
The ten-run seventh inning Friday night was a sign of what this offense can do when it gets rolling. TCU sent 14 batters to the plate in explosive frame, turning a 4-3 advantage into a a 14 run whooping.
Johnny Rizer had his first of two hits in the inning in the form of his second home run of the game, leading the charge with a solo shot to dead center. A double by Conner Shepherd preceded a hit by pitch and a walk, loading the bases for Zach Humphreys with one down. He delivered a two-run single, advancing to third on Josh Watson’s extra base hit a batter later. After intentionally walking Jake Guenther, the Eers allowed two more runs on Rizer’s second hit of the inning, this one a single up the gut. Alex Isola wore one one batter later, leading to Shepherd’s second double of the inning. Adam Oviedo completed the scoring by collecting a pair of RBI on a single to left.
While the offense was great, we would be remiss to not also include Chuck King’s exceptional performance - the junior bounced back from a poor performance against Baylor to throw nine-innings of one run ball, facing six batters over the minimum in allowing four hits while striking out eight. When King has been on he’s been TCU’s second-best pitcher - and he’s been on way more than he hasn’t. With the win, King moves to 4-2 on the season, and could be the difference-maker for the stretch run.
There aren’t a ton of complaints from a weekend that saw the offense perform at a high level and the pitching be fairly consistent. The bullpen allowed two runs Friday (though in a blowout) and three on Sunday (that cost them the game) but TCU pitching walked only seven batters all weekend while striking out 26.
It’s hard to complain about an offense that put up 25 runs, too.
But, at the end of the day, TCU had a chance to earn a sweep that would have put them back in the mix as we near the postseason. Definitely, a missed opportunity.
Another ninth inning meltdown took the sweep off the table, as a two-out error cost the Frogs the game.
Marcelo Perez, who had been all but unhittable this season as a freshman, has struggled down the stretch, as the wall seems to have hit. After striking out the first batter he faced in the final frame, he allowed a solo shot to tie things up. A fly out gave TCU two outs, but a throwing error on Adam Oviedo kept the inning alive, and allowed WVU to pull off the walk-off win.
TCU’s defensive issues continue to plague them, and could ultimately cost them a chance to keep playing. The Frogs had two errors Sunday and three total over the weekend. Perez has struggled in the late innings as well, but as a freshman, it’s not all that surprising. Hopefully, TCU can clean up the defense and the bullpen with just two weeks left in the regular season.