TCU took game one from Nebraska on Friday night at Globe Life Field, winning 4-1. Austin Krob had another solid outing on the mound, while David Bishop once again provided the spark with his bat.
Krob’s slider was especially devastating, as all six of his strikeouts came on sliders.
“It’s always been my go-to pitch,” Krob said afterward, “It’s always been my bread and butter, but now i’ve just refined it to where I can throw it down as a back foot to where they’re going to swing over it 80%, 90% of the time.”
Tommy Sacco broke the scoreless tie with one out and nobody on in the third inning. Sacco turned on an 0-2 fastball and put it over the left field fence, pumping his fist as he rounded second. Sacco leads TCU in batting average through the first five games and now carries a five game hitting streak into Saturday.
It’s a refreshing change of pace for Sacco, who struggled to get the bat on the ball for the majority of 2021.
“What you saw last year wasn’t indicative of who Tommy is as a ball player,” Kirk Saarloos said when asked about the senior shortstop. “We challenged him coming back, you are a great offensive player, you’re not just a defensive shortstop.”
“I think you’re seeing that now.”
Sacco of course has kept up his defensive efforts as well, flashing his glove multiple times on Friday night as TCU’s defense continued to be in rhythm.
In the third inning Krob induced a ground ball to shortstop, where Sacco flipped it to Rodgers, who slung it to Bishop to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Krob struck out his second batter of the inning as the runner on first attempted to steal. Byrne threw a laser to Sacco at second base, beating the runner by several steps.
Saarloos has praised the defense multiple times already this year, and did so once again on Friday night, saying, “I think we can play elite defense, both in the infield and in the outfield.”
The Frogs broke things open a bit in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of David Bishop. With two outs and first base open, Nebraska opted to intentionally walk Brayden Taylor.
Bishop, who Saarloos has already commended for how he protects Taylor in the lineup, hit a rocket over the right fielder’s head. Three runs came home to score, and Bishop advanced to third base on a fielding error.
While Bishop wound up being stranded at third his hit pushed TCU’s lead to 4-0, and raised his total RBI on the season to 12.
Krob’s night would end after six strong innings of work, with Luke Savage coming on in relief to start the seventh inning. Savage struggled, giving up a single, then hitting a batter, before giving up another single that drove in Nebraska’s first run of the game.
With runners on first and second with no outs, TCU volunteer assistant Kyle Winkler went to the mound to attempt to calm Savage down. He did, striking out the next two batters he faced.
With two outs and two on, Nebraska pinch-hit with a lefty. Saarloos countered by calling on Augie Mihlbauer out of the bullpen. Mihlbauer struck out Core Jackson to end the inning, and the threat.
Nebraska wasn’t done trying to climb back into the game, though. Marcelo Perez came on to pitch the eighth for TCU, and he struggled with his control. Perez walked the leadoff batter before getting the next two out.
A single from the next batter put runners on first and second. Perez got ahead of the next batter 0-2, but threw three consecutive pitches in the dirt, one of which got away from Byrne, advancing the runners to second and third. His next pitch was high, loading the bases.
Saarloos made the call to go to the bullpen once again, bringing in TCU’s closer River Ridings. Ridings struck out Cam Chick looking to end the threat.
TCU went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, leading to Ridings’ return to the mound to try and close things out. Ridings did just that, but not without a little bit of drama.
After striking out the leadoff hitter, Ridings hit the next batter. Following a second strikeout, Ridings conceded a single into left field, bringing the tying run up to the plate.
Ridings managed to get a ground ball, albeit a sharp one towards the middle, hit to Gray Rodgers at second. Rodgers made a sliding play on a short hop and managed to flip the ball to Sacco for the final out.
“That’s a huge play sliding to his back hand,” A smiling Saarloos noted after the game.
TCU is now 4-1 on the season, and they’ll face off against Nebraska again on Saturday afternoon at 2pm. Riley Cornelio will get the start for the Frogs.
Watch the full postgame presser with Kirk Saarloos and Austin Krob below: