It was TCU’s first game as an unranked team all season.
The squad had been ranked all year, at one point up to #12, just to drop out of the rankings this past Monday, after tough series losses to West Virginia and Texas.
And, unfortunately, there was nothing Tuesday night to prove that the Frogs were indeed a Top 25 team in the country.
The game delayed an hour and fifty minutes due to lightning, TCU was antsy to turn their struggles around. The team has consistently struggled making contact on the ball throughout stretches as of late, chasing at a lot of pitches outside the zone, and the trend continued Tuesday night, losing to #16 DBU 6-1.
RHP Caedmon Parker, who’s also been struggling, was on the mound for TCU Tuesday night in what was his fourth mid-week start of his freshman season. Allowing 2+ ER in each of those four starts, Parker allowed 3 last night, on top of allowing 4 hits, in the loss.
The Frogs went 1-2-3 in the 1st Inning, and the Patriots capitalized, as Parker allowed a lead-off walk, and DBU’s Jace Grady crushed a 2-run homer to CF, bringing DBU’s early lead to 2-0.
When TCU’s 4-5-6 went down just as easily, Parker and the Frogs were hoping this one didn’t get away from them in the 2nd, and luckily Parker was able to put DBU away.
Once Luke Boyers struck out swinging in the 3rd, retiring TCU’s first 7 batters, DH Reed Spenrath took his time at-bat and homered a one-run shot into LF, cutting DBU’s lead to 2-1. Hitting his 2nd HR of the season, and 2nd in the span of seven days, Spenrath will hope to get into a bit of a groove, and solidify his spot as the DH in TCU’s batting order.
After allowing a 2-out double, a 2-out Walk, and a 2-out RBI single in the 3rd though, DBU was able to push their lead to 3-1.
Throughout this season so far, the Frogs had done a tremendous job of keeping opponent’s runners off the bases, sixth in the nation in that statistic. But on Tuesday, Parker and the Frogs struggled to hold the Patriots off-base, as Caedmon forced 4 walks in only 3 IP, and was relieved in the 4th after allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, throwing a measly 53.3% strike percentage.
RHP Cam Brown was head coach Kirk Saarloos’ first choice of relief for Parker Tuesday night, even though Brown hadn’t pitched an inning of relief all season, and the move backfired. Brown also just couldn’t find the zone, walking 3 batters in only 2 IP, and allowing a 2-out triple and a 2-out double in the 5th, driving in 2 DBU runs, and driving the lead to a comfortable 5-1 for the Patriots.
With the Frogs needing the bats to come alive, and simply needing men on base, Elijah Nunez started the 6th with a perfect drag bunt down the 1B line. With a man on base and no outs, TCU could’ve rallied a couple runs and made this a game, but in what was a very unfortunate situation, Brayden Taylor’s fly ball was dropped by DBU’s right fielder, but Taylor was still called out thanks to the ‘transition rule’. Nunez was called out when he didn’t return to 1st base, thinking the dropped ball resulted in a DBU error.
This was a huge swing, as the Frogs weren’t able to start a 2-out rally in the 6th.
Relieving Cam Brown in the 6th was RHP Drew Hill, marking only his third appearance of the season. His night got off to the worst start possible, allowing a solo bomb to RF off of his first pitch thrown, and the DBU lead was up to 6-1. Hill would only throw 1.2 IP before Saarloos relieved him, and Augie Mihlbauer, dispatched solely for the last out of the 7th, was able to strike out DBU’s Luke Heefner to end the inning. As Parker and Brown both had trouble finding the zone (combined 7 walks), Hill and Mihlbauer were able to calm down a bit, allowing just one walk in the two combined innings pitched.
Making his debut for TCU, freshman Trip Banta started on the mound in the 8th, and got backed up early in the inning, allowing bases to be loaded with no outs. In what was an impressive show of composure for the freshman, Banta was able to keep the scorching DBU bats away from home plate, throwing a strikeout and forcing a double play.
The main criticism of the team so far this season has been that they’ve left too many runners in scoring position, especially in the teams’ last two series versus West Virginia and Texas, but that wasn’t the case here tonight. DBU’s pitching completely shut the Frogs’ bats down, as the team had only 6 men in scoring position the whole game, and wasn’t able to bring one of them home.
With Texas Tech, the #2 ranked team in the Big 12, visiting Lupton this weekend, Saarloos and the team will have to address some major problems. TCU’s bats will need to pick it up, and will need to stop chasing, and Saarloos will have to find a solid rotation that will throw strikes and will leave men off base. It’s crucial these problems are addressed, as the chance of a Big 12 title is slipping ever further away.
TCU will host Texas Tech for a 3-game weekend series. First pitch of the series slated for 6:00 p.m. and will be televised on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.