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TCU Baseball rides five run eighth to 7-1 victory over Gonzaga

The Frogs got a great performances from Russell Smith and Haylen Green — as well as some timely hitting — to even the series with the Zags Saturday.

Haylen Green was fired up after Tommy Sacco and Gray Rodgers combined for an inning-ending double play in the eighth Saturday against Gonzaga.
Melissa Triebwasser

The Frogs did all of their work early and late, scoring enough in the first inning to claim victory over Gonzaga in game two of their series — and putting things away with a five run eighth to make the win a little more comfortable.

With Russell Smith on the mound, TCU Baseball didn’t need much on the scoreboard, and the two runs they scored early were ultimately enough to get the job done. After Nunez struck out to start the inning, Luke Boyers singled and stole second. Brayden Taylor followed with a four pitch walk, and Zach Humphreys brought them both home with a double to left to make it a 2-0 ball game.

Neither team would score for the next four innings, but there would be some drama. Boyers exited the game in the top of the second due to an undisclosed injury, bringing Porter Brown into the game. Sikes shifted to right field, Elijah Nunez to center, with Brown sliding into left. Then, in the third, TCU lost Conner Shepherd, who was replaced by Taylor, with Gray Rodgers entering the lineup to take over at second. The seriousness of the injuries is unknown at this time, but we will update you as soon as more information becomes available. Brown was later subbed for Garrison Berkley, who made his TCU debut in the seventh, sliding into right field and moving Sikes and Nunez back to their normal positions.

Smith threw a lot of pitches in the first three innings: 20 in the first and 17 each in the second and third. But he found his groove in the fourth, needing just nine pitches to get out of a 1-2-3 frame and 12 for another perfect inning in the fifth. The Zags made some noise in the sixth, though, doubling with one out and singling a batter later, to put runners at the corners — and TCU’s two run lead in jeopardy. Smith got a ground ball to second — and it appeared that the Frogs had a chance to turn to — but Rodgers bobbled it for just a second and the runner at first was safe, allowing a run to score on the play.

Haylen Green replaced Smith in the seventh and was absolutely dominant, pitching to just one batter over the minimum across his three frames of work. He ended the seventh with consecutive strikeouts and eliminated a base hit in the eighth thanks to a nifty 6-4-3 double play that started with a Sacco diving stop on a ball up the middle. And he got a lot of help from the offense, who strung together a beautiful eighth inning to put things well out of reach.

Zach Humphreys got things go with a bunt single to third, kicking off six straight batters reaching safely. Wood singled on an 0-2 count to right, and some nice running by Humphreys put runners at the corners ahead of Phillip Sikes. The Frogs’ centerfielder continued his hot start, doubling to left to bring home both runners, and scored himself a batter later when Rodgers doubled as well. Bobby Goodloe — who had a rough day at the plate as he was robbed no less than three times by outstanding defensive plays by Gonzaga — worked a walk, and with two on and one out Tommy Sacco ripped one to center to put a bow on the 7-1 score.

Seeing Wood, Rodgers, and Sacco come up with big hits in big spots is a big deal for TCU Baseball; all three were expected to be starters and big time contributors at the plate coming into the season, after all were excellent out of the gate a year ago. Maybe this will be the thing that gets them going offensively.

Green allowed a double in the ninth but nothing more, keeping the Zags at bay as TCU pitching had done all game. Though he and Smith combined for just six strikeouts, they had a Gonzaga lineup that lit up everyone that they faced a night ago off-balance and uneasy the entire nine innings Saturday.

TCU finished with ten hits from nine different players, with only Humphreys getting more than one on the day. Ten different players would reach safely, thanks to six walks drawn, and the Frogs stole three bases as well. It wasn’t all great for the offense, who stranded six and left the bases loaded once and runners in scoring position two additional times. They were also quieted from the fourth through seventh innings, going in order in each of those four frames.

The Frogs will turn to Austin Krob Sunday as they look to win their second home series of the season, with first pitch scheduled for 1:00pm.