TCU baseball teed off the Big 12 Conference slate this weekend with a three-game road series against Baylor, winning twice to take the set and begin conference play with a 2-1 record. Now 14-5 overall, TCU will take on Abilene Christian in a nonconference road matchup Tuesday before its next Big 12 series against Kansas State beginning March 25. Here’s a three-game summary of the TCU-Baylor conference series this weekend.
Game 1: TCU 3, Baylor 0
Riley Cornelio earned the series-opening start and dominated on the pitcher’s mound, throwing eight shutout innings and allowing only two hits while striking out seven and retiring the last 10 batters faced. The Horned Frogs jumped ahead in the top of fifth inning, when shortstop Tommy Sacco broke a scoreless tie with a solo shot off Tyler Thomas.
Second baseman Gray Rodgers scored on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh inning to give the Horned Frogs a 2-0 lead. Looking for some insurance in the top of the eighth innings, TCU saw freshman first baseman David Bishop launch an RBI double to right-center, scoring center fielder Elijah Nunez for the third and final run of the evening. Left-hander River Ridings tossed a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save for the Horned Frogs.
Game 2: TCU 11, Baylor 9
Saturday’s matinee was a high-scoring outing from both clubs, with both starting pitchers exiting the game before the end of the fourth inning. Baylor’s Jared McKenzie belted a two-run homer off TCU’s Brett Walker to put the Bears ahead 2-0 in the top of the first inning, but the Horned Frogs answered with a five-run top of the third inning. Bishop tied the score with a two-run single before Rodgers and Sacco followed with back-to-back base-scoring knocks to give the Horned Frogs the 5-2 lead and their first lead of the game.
Baylor regained control of the game over the middle frames, scoring six unanswered runs to surge ahead 8-5 after eight innings. Right-hander Marcelo Perez helped keep the Horned Frogs alive with a solid relief effort, striking out five batters and limiting Baylor to one earned run over three and one-third innings. TCU inched closer in the top of the ninth inning, where Sacco drew a bases-loaded walk and right fielder Luke Boyers reached on a hit-by-pitch to score two runs. In a clutch pinch-hit at-bat, sophomore infielder Mason Speaker brought home the game-tying run on a infield single to the third-base side.
Baylor’s sloppy defense hurt the Bears in extra innings, with TCU scoring three runs in the top of the 11th inning to leap ahead 11-8. Speaker put the Horned Frogs ahead on a bases-loaded walk before Nunez reached on a fielder’s choice. But a throwing error on Baylor second baseman Tre Richardson on the play allowed two TCU runners to reach home. Despite conceding a run, Ridings closed out the win to record his sixth save of the year.
Game 3: Baylor 7, TCU 3
The Bears avoided the sweep with a strong start on offense, scoring four unanswered runs and holding TCU scoreless over the first six innings. Right-hander Cam Brown took the start for the Horned Frogs, striking out five and allowing four earned runs in five innings of work. Reliever Caleb Bolden added three strikeouts in one and one-third innings on the mound.
Baylor starter Will Rigney threw five and one-third innings and held TCU to only two hits. Designated hitter Owen Blackledge helped TCU avoid the shutout with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh inning. Third baseman Brayden Taylor and Bishop connected on back-to-back home runs to give the Horned Frogs late life in the top of the eighth inning. Baylor reliever Oliver Hambleton recorded the final two outs for his first save of the season.