For the first time this season, it was TCU’s pitching that let it down, as the Horned Frogs squandered a late lead against Sam Houston State in their Shriners’ Classic Finale.
After running through Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Texas State Friday and Saturday — inflicting the ten run rule on both — the Horned Frogs got all they wanted from a feisty Bearkats team and more Sunday afternoon.
The Frogs jumped out to an early lead in the second, scoring the game’s first run thanks to a two base error after a Zach Humphreys ground ball and some good situational hitting by Gene Wood and Phillip Sikes. They added two more in the third as Luke Boyers, Brayde Taylor, and Hunter Wolfe hit back to back to back singles for run number two, and a double steal led to another run-scorer error for SHSU.
Austin Krob was strong through the first three innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four. But he lost his mojo a bit in the fourth, allowing back to back singles to open the frame and getting touched up for two runs on a one out single to center. He hit the next batter he faced and walked another after collecting his fifth strikeout, giving way to Haylen Green to ended the inning and the threat with a four pitch K of his own.
A quiet fifth inning gave way to a one-run sixth, as Gene Wood did it all, tripling and scoring on a wild pitch. Before Wood’s hit and run, Conner Shepherd was thrown out trying to take second on a shallow fly ball, an auspicious out that would come back to bite the Frogs later.
After the seventh inning stretch, the Bearkats’ offense woke up, as they struck for a decisive three runs in the bottom of the frame.
And they did it all with two outs.
After getting consecutive groundouts to open the inning, Green allowed three straight base hits and a triple, leading to three runs and a 5-4 SHSU lead. Dalton Brown relieved Green and got the elusive third out, and TCU would tie things up in the top of the eighth thanks to Shepherd’s double, an error that moved him to third, and a sac fly off the bat of Humphreys to knot things up at five apiece.
Brown and River Ridings worked around a one out double to keep SHSU off the board in the bottom of the eighth, and neither team could do anything with the single base hit they each recorded in the ninth.
The Frogs got a lead-off walk in the ninth, and Taylor advanced to second with one out on a wild pitch. But neither Shepherd or Humphreys could bring him home, leaving things tied at five with the Kats having one last chance to take it.
They would do just that.
Garrett Wright, who had a huge debut back on Opening Weekend, once again got himself in a jam, walking Touchet on four pitches to start the inning. This time, he wouldn’t get out of it, as a bunt moved him into scoring position and a walk-off double ended the ball game.
Most nights, five runs is going to be enough for this pitching staff, but you would still like to see an offense that has been red-hot of late put up more than a nickel against Sam Houston. Their seven game win streak ends at the hands of the Bearkats, but it won’t be long before they can look to start another.
The Frogs will stay on the road for the next few days, playing at Texas State Tuesday and at UTA Wednesday. They return home to Lupton Stadium for a weekend series against Gonzaga that begins Friday night.