FORT WORTH, TX — A short weather delay did nothing to cool off the TCU Baseball bats Friday night, as the Horned Frogs jumped all over the Kansas Jayhawks Friday night to take the opening game of their fifth Big 12 series of the season.
With Russell Smith shelved for the weekend, Austin Krob got his second consecutive Friday night start, acquitting himself nicely across 8.0 innings of one run ball. He got plenty of run support as well, as the Frogs blasted three long balls into the humid air at Lupton Stadium, hammering the left side of the field.
TCU got going early, turning an Elijah Nunez leadoff triple into a 1-0 lead in the first, as Zach Humphreys drove the freshman home with a base hit up the middle. TCU added five in a decisive second inning, with Brayden Taylor striking the big blow. Phillip Sikes started the frame with a double, advancing to third on a Luke Boyers bunt single. Nunez walked with one out, and Taylor got the conga line started with a bases clearing double down the right field line. Humphreys collected his second hit and second RBI of the night with a double, and Gene Wood sent him scampering home with a base hit to close the scoring in the second inning.
Kansas cut into the lead on a weird RBI double play that ended in a long review, scoring on what was eventually a double play via a run down. But TCU got it back in the bottom of the third thanks to a Sikes home run, a ball that flew off the bat and sent the TCU bullpen into an absolute tizzy:
bullpen! @SikesPhillip | #FrogballUSA | #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/gOZslDNPUI— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) April 24, 2021
He wasn’t done.
After Krob worked around a two out walk, Zach Humphreys added to his two hit night with a solo shot to left to open the bottom of the fourth. Hunter Wolfe walked with one out and Gray Rodgers singles, put runners on first and third for Sikes.
He went ahead and hit a ball HARDER:
Crushed @SikesPhillip | #FrogballUSA | #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/UASDdDDBQI— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) April 24, 2021
With an 11-1 lead, Austin Krob was free to settle in and wreak havoc on KU hitters. Krob retired seven straight, including going three up, three down in both the fifth and the sixth innings to firmly put things out of reach for the Jayhawks. Even when he got into trouble — back to back doubles in the top of the seventh — he seemed unfazed, striking out two batters and inducing a fly ball to center to quickly end the threat.
Jim Schlossnagle was able to empty the bench in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t scrubs rolling out for the Horned Frogs, as the hit party continued. Austin Henry led off the inning by launching a triple to the wall in left center, scoring when Conner Shepherd’s pinch hit grounder to first was misplayed. After Bobby Goodloe grounded out, Porter Brown ripped a double to right center to bring home Shep, and Boyers took first after being hit by a pitch as the first batter faced by the fourth Kansas pitcher of the game. A Tommy Sacco walk brought up Elijah Nunez for the sixth time in the ball game, and the freshman brought home run number 14 on a ground ball out to second. It was 15-1 after a passed ball brought Boyers home, as the Frogs scored four runs on two hits in the seventh, with most of the damage being done by the bench.
Krob came back out for the eighth, despite having thrown 95 pitches. With Sunday’s started TBD, getting a long, quality start from the lefty was critical for TCU, and he delivered in spades. A leadoff single in the eighth was quickly erased with a double play, and he delivered a career-high eight frames of one run, eight hit ball with seven strikeouts and just one walk on a clean 100 pitches (71 strikes). He preserved the bullpen in a critical way and once again proved himself as an elite prospect when his team needed him the most.
Kurtis Byrne, another sub, led off the bottom of the eighth with a base hit but the Frogs couldn’t add to their lead. Riley Cornelio became just the second TCU pitcher of the ninth, striking out a pair in a three up, three down effort.
TCU was led by Zach Humphreys (4-5 with 3 RBI, a double and a triple), Phillip Sikes, who had four RBI on three hits including a pair of home runs, and Brayden Taylor, who plated three. Elijah Nunez drew two of TCU’s seven walks and the Frogs struck out just six times, as four Kansas pitchers combined to allow 15 runs on 18 hits — including three home runs and 12 total extra base hits (seven doubles!) — in a game that seemed over the moment TCU first got on the board. Every conference win matters, but on a night where Texas Tech was smoked at home by Baylor, the Frogs sixth straight dub provided just a little extra cushion for the only team to win a series against TCU this season.
The Frogs will look to lock up the series tomorrow at 4:00pm, with Johnny Ray expected to take the mound looking to make it seven straight.