TCU Baseball didn’t exactly maximize their opportunities offensively Saturday, but they did enough in front of Austin Krob to earn their third straight win and fifth Big 12 series win of the season.
With the Frogs standing alone on top of the Big 12 standings after Friday night’s victory in Morgantown — and the Longhorns’ home loss to Texas Tech — keeping the positive momentum going was key on the agenda. Both teams started slow offensively though, as they played to a scoreless draw through three frames. TCU got on the board first, striking for a run in the fourth when Brayden Taylor, Phillip Sikes, and Gray Rodgers all singled to load the bases and Luke Boyers earned a walk to make it a 1-0 ball game. But TCU would leave them loaded there when Tommy Sacco struck out to end the inning. A similar situation unfolded an inning later, as the Frogs added two runs on two hits and three walks, but fell short of the big inning that could have been.
Elijah Nunez started things off with a push bunt for a base hit, taking second on a Zach Humphreys single to left. Brayden Taylor walked to load the bases and Nunez scored after a pitching change when Hunter Wolfe earned a free pass as well. After Austin Henry struck out, Sikes hit a hard liner to second that was dropped, leading to a third run on the fielder’s choice. Another walk to Rodgers loaded them up again, but Boyers struck out swinging to end the threat.
Krob wasn’t at his best Saturday, a theme of the last few weeks. While he didn’t have his swing and miss stuff, he was effective when he needed to be — and got a ton of help from his defense, namely Gray Rodgers.
The Frogs’ second baseman made a handful of outstanding plays Saturday, showing off his awareness, range, and feel for the position. Rodgers ended the threat himself a few times, and Krob was able to wriggle out of trouble by way of timely pitching and a couple of critical Ks. He got another helping hand from his catcher, Zach Humphreys, who made some stellar defensive plays of his own, throwing out a would-be base stealer in addition to picking up some big hits of his own.
WVU cut the Frogs’ lead to three with a run in the sixth, chasing Krob after his leadoff walk scored via a wild pitch and a couple of groundouts. Charles King took over, allowing a run in the seventh via a hit by pitch and a couple of base knocks and another in the bottom of the eighth on a no doubt solo shot over the left field wall. That ended his day, as River Ridings came out of the pen in relief — and hit the first batter he faced. He recovered though: the Eers got the tying run on base but Ridings bounced back with a big time strikeout to end the inning and keep WVU at bay headed to the ninth.
Ridings was great in the final frame on the way to his first career save, striking out the first and last batters of the final frame to hand the Horned Frogs another series win. On a day when TCU didn’t swing the bat well (just seven hits), were unable to get the timely hit to blow things up (14 left on base), and did a lot of swinging and missing (11 Ks), they still found a way to win, using walks and stolen bases to provide just enough run support.
Next up will be Sunday’s finale, as TCU goes for their fourth Big 12 series sweep. Johnny Ray is expected to get the start for the Frogs.