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Monday Morning Manager: Frogs drop first home Big 12 game, but keep pace with the Longhorns

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TCU Baseball won another series, but lost a shot of sole ownership of first place in the Big 12.

Johnny Ray looked like an ace Saturday, Austin Krob was masterful Friday, but the Frogs’ bats went cold to cost them a sweep.
Melissa Triebwasser

You can’t lose a home game to Kansas.

I don’t care that you won the series. I don’t care that one of you three weekend starters was on the shelf. I don’t care whatever the excuse is, Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Jayhawks to cap off a weekend that was absolutely dominated by the Horned Frogs is a massive downer after an exceptional seven game stretch.

TCU pounded KU pitching through the first two games, dropping 15 on the Jayhawks Saturday and ten more Sunday. They launched 11 doubles, four home runs, and two triples in securing a series win... and then completely forgot how to baseball with sole ownership of first place on the line Sunday.

But let’s back up just a bit.

Tuesday, TCU played near perfect baseball, riding a surprise start by freshman Luke Savage, a name only the savviest of college baseball fans had heard prior to his first career collegiate appearance against UTA. The Plano Prestonwood Christian alum threw four winnings of one run, one hit ball, striking out two before giving way to Drew Hill and Garrett Wright, who combined to twirl five innings of literally perfect pitching, retiring all 15 batters they faced. The Frogs walked five times and struck out just six, pounding ten hits — three doubles, a triple, and a home run — as eight of nine starters reached base safely. Jim Schlossnagle said after that it might well have been his favorite win of the season.

That led to the weekend, where the Frogs continued to look sharp Friday and Saturday, pounding out 25 runs on 33 hits through the first two, while getting 8.0 inning gems from Austin Krob and Johnny Ray, who allowed just one and three runs respectively.

Sunday was a different story, as the bats went utterly and completely cold.

TCU scratched out just one run on eight hits Sunday, stranding 15 and leaving the bases loaded on multiple occasions. It was really bad baseball offensively, a disappointment for Chuck King and River Ridings, who combined to pitch more than well enough to put their team in a position to win — just two runs allowed, both in the fourth inning, with two strikeouts and two walks. Haylen Green got his only action of the weekend, going two full innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out three.

That’s the way baseball go, right?

START ME UP:

With Russell Smith expected to return this weekend, the rotation looks to be rounding back into expected form. Krob and Ray were beyond sharp over the weekend, giving the TCU bullpen most of the weekend off as each went eight full innings. For the Frogs to be true contenders, the weekend rotation has to be elite, and it certainly looked the part — albeit against Kansas.

Also major props to Luke Savage, who might be the guy we have been looking for for Tuesday nights.

BULLPEN PROMISE:

Shaky throughout the season, the Frogs bullpen was really good in mostly low pressure situations over the last week, with six players throwing 12.1 innings of scoreless baseball across four games, allowing just four hits in total. Jacob Meador and Riley Cornelio were each great in closing out Kansas, and the previously mentioned Hill and Wright were absolutely electric. Combine them with King, who was fine Sunday and has been exceptional out of the pen over the last few weeks, Ridings — becoming Schloss’ most reliable reliever not named Haylen Green — the improved Marcelo Perez, and of course Haylen, and the Frogs have the pieces they need to play deep into the summer.

EXTRA, EXTRA:

The Horned Frogs hit the ball hard all week, smoking 17 doubles over the four games, including an insane seven Friday alone. They added four triples and five home runs, as it seemed that every TCU player got in on the extra base act. Sure, they won’t score 10 runs every game, but, more often than not, they are providing serious run support for their starters on a regular basis over the last month.

LUKE BOYERS BACK:

The true freshman had a nightmare weekend against Oklahoma State, but seems to have found his stroke again, collecting four hits and an RBI and getting the barrel on the ball several times. Porter Brown was exceptional in his absence, and I would like to see him get more reps. But Boyers is making it hard to take him back out of the lineup, both at the plate and in the field.

UP NEXT:

TCU travels back across the metroplex Tuesday night for a scheduled matchup at UTA — though weather could be an issue there.

After that, the Frogs hit the road again for three at WVU, a team that has won just one series all season but has yet to be swept. TCU is currently locked in a tie for first place with Texas atop the Big 12, and the Longhorns get Texas Tech at home this weekend. Both teams will look to secure critical series wins before their matchup in Fort Worth the following weekend.

This week’s updated Big 12 Baseball matrix.
Jacob Sailers (@jdsailors)