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TCU Baseball Recap: Frogs split double-header with Kentucky

TCU loses series to Wildcats, but saves weekend with explosive 9th inning to win finale

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 04 Texas Christian at Kentucky
Eli Nunez: Tough Cookie
Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With heavy rain expected in Lexington on Sunday, TCU and Kentucky doubled up on Saturday to complete the scheduled 3-game series.

The weird bluegrass weather started early Saturday, as swirling winds played fits with fly balls, causing a pop-up in the first inning of Game 1 to become a bloop double, scoring the Wildcat from first.

Facing a left-handed pitcher, TCU’s bats had trouble waking up after the busy night Friday. The Frogs appeared to be in business with a game-tying single from Elijah Nunez in the 3rd inning, but Kurtis Byrne was cut down at the plate on a play confirmed by umpire replay. After Kentucky added a run to its lead in the fourth, Nunez then earned that two-out RBI bringing Byrne home to cut the Wildcat lead in half in the 5th inning.

The Frogs were never able to reduce the deficit, as the bottom of the 5th brought on the big strike from the Wildcats: a 3-run bomb to center field to push the score to 5-1. The home run chased starter Riley Cornelio from the game and gave him the loss. With the game shortened to seven innings due to the double-header, the Frogs were not able to close the gap, losing the game and the series.

Staring at the possibility of a series sweep, the Frogs turned around about an hour later for game 3 of the series. This time, the bats were awake for the Frogs: plating three in the opening frame with a couple singles, a walk, a wild pitch, and a double by Tommy Sacco to clear the bases.

After not scoring in the 2nd, TCU put up one run in each of the next four innings. The Frog league kept getting extended each inning, but TCU was unable to generate multiple runs in any of those innings, leaving a window open that the Cats eventually crept through. Brett Walker kept the Wildcats off the board for six innings, getting into and out of trouble on the mound.

Then the bottom of the 7th happened...Kentucky chased Walker with two base runners; Augie Mihlbauer came on and surrendered a 4 pitch walk and a grand slam. Caleb Bolden replaced Mihlbauer and allowed a hit and another home run before a pair of strike outs to mercifully end the inning. When the dust settled, in the 7th, the TCU seven run lead was reduced to one. That margin was promptly erased in the 8th inning as a tough play at 3rd is charged as an error to Brayden Taylor, allowing the runner to score from 2nd base.

That sent us to the 9th inning, and what glorious roller coaster inning it was. Sacco doubled to lead off, but got caught on a fielder’s choice play at third on Byrne’s grounder to the pitcher. Logan Maxwell walked, putting two on for Porter Brown who doubled into left field scoring Byrne and returning the lead to TCU. Kentucky was so afraid of Eli Nunez (and rightfully so with how he had been hitting in the series, even getting a shout out by Kentucky Baseball’s official Twitter account) it intentionally walked the bases loaded for Luke Boyers. He gets a hit for an RBI and Taylor follows with a single bringing around two more runs. Dave Bishop hits into what could have been an inning ending double play an error gives TCU another run, for 5 in the inning. The bottom of the 9th opened with another Kentucky home run and a single to put the TCU lead in jeopardy again. Instead River Ridings forced the double play and got a fly out to earn his first win of the season.

TCU is now 8-3 on the season and will play at Louisville on Tuesday morning at 11:00 AM, televised on ACC Network with radio on KTCU 88.7.