Fort Worth, TX — Phillip Sikes’ inside the park grand slam home run highlighted TCU Baseball’s romp Tuesday night, as the Horned Frogs made their 2021 Lupton debut and notched a 20-0 victory over Texas Southern.
Freshman Cam Brown was masterful on the mound for TCU, hitting 93/94 consistently on the gun across all four innings he pitched. The highly-touted prospect allowed just two hits while striking out four, working himself out of a first inning jam and punctuating each of his first two frames with an inning-ending strikeout.
There was plenty of run support as well.
After a quiet first, TCU exploded for five runs in the second, and by the end of the third they had already matched their season scoring total.
Kurtis Byrne, starting behind home plate in relief of Zach Humphreys, started things off in the second with a leadoff double. That was the first of four straight hits for the Frogs, who had five consecutive players reach base safely to get their first two runs of the game. Brayden Taylor’s triple struck the first blow and Hunter Wolfe capped the five run frame with a bases-clearing single that ended up with him on third base thanks to a Southern error.
TCU did work in the second, too, as Luke Boyers notched an RBI single to left and scored on Hunter Wolfe’s bases loaded walk. They added four more in the fourth — two coming thanks to a Conner Shepherd triple. Shep came home when Boyers plated him with a single, and Luke scored for a second straight inning thanks to a Porter Brown sacrifice.
Cam Brown was relieved by Jacob Meador in the fifth, and the second-year freshman struck out two in his first action of the season. Meanwhile, amidst a host of substitutions, the Horned Frogs added five more in the bottom of the fifth, and did so in the most unconventional of ways.
I don’t know how many players can say they have hit Grand Slam Inside the Park Homeruns, but after Tuesday, you can add Phillip Sikes to the list. The outfielder came up with the bases loaded and ripped a ball just over the bag down the right field line, clearing the bases and hustling all the way home as the Tigers’ right fielder chased the ball deep into the corner. Though the game was well-decided by then, it was a great moment for a player that the Frogs are relying on to be a spark plug behind Hunter Wolfe.
Leading 16-0, the game played on, with Meador continuing to hold the Tigers’ offense at bay and Jim Schlossnagle emptying his crowded dugout. Cruz Shope singled and scored in the sixth to run the total to 17, and another freshman, Storm Hierholzer relieved Jacob Meador on the mound after two innings of one-hit ball with five strikeouts. Storm brought the lightning as well, striking out one batter in one inning before giving way to River Ridings, who made quick work of Southern in the top of the eighth. Jacob Speaker took over in the ninth and set the side down in order, striking out two to give the staff 13 Ks on the night.
You almost have to feel badly for the Tigers, who not only surrendered 20 runs on 17 hits, and committed six errors defensively, adding insult to injury. It didn’t help that they were facing an angry, frustrated TCU team that clearly felt like they had something to prove after this weekend’s showing in Arlington.
The Frogs were led by Boyers (4 hits, 2 RBI, 5 runs scored) and Sikes (5 RBI on three hits with three runs scored). Shepherd and Taylor added two hits a piece as well, as nine different Frogs notched a hit and 12 reached base safely on the night. TCU had two doubles, two triples, and the homerun, walked 11 times, and were hit by five pitches. They struck out just six times, a welcome relief after notching nearly 40 Ks over the weekend, but still left 15 on base — though it didn’t much matter.
It was a complete effort, and exactly what the Horned Frogs should do to an overmatched opponent.
There is plenty to build off of from tonight’s win: great pitching, solid defense, and of course the hitting was outstanding. But things only get tougher from here. The Frogs welcome Liberty to town for a three game set this weekend and get SFA prior to the Shriners’ Classic in Houston the first weekend of March.