TCU Baseball had dropped its two previous Big 12 series and was coming off a mid-week loss to Dallas Baptist. The Frogs needed a spark to get things back on track in the midst of a brutally difficult stretch of opponents. The return to Lupton Stadium delivered more than a spark for the Frogs, as TCU outscored TTU 22-10 on the weekend en route to a three-game sweep of the #4-ranked Red Raiders. It was a glorious weekend for the Frogs, filled with exciting performance and tense moments, let’s recap the top moments from each game:
Game 1: TCU 7, Texas Tech 4
The series opener on Thursday night had the makings of a true pitcher’s duel early, as TCU’s Riley Cornelio (9 Ks in 6.2 IP) and Tech’ Andrew Morris (4 Ks in 6.0 IP) were mowing down batters. The Red Raiders got on the board first as an error at first base allowed a run to score and extended the inning to bring in another. TCU took one right back in the 5th as Hunter Teplanszky, getting the start at 2B, earned his first collegiate hit as his double down the left field line scored Gray Rodgers from first base. The Frogs tied things up with a Tommy Sacco leadoff solo shot in the 6th, followed a series of hits that eventually plated Brayden Taylor and David Bishop in the inning.
The TCU lead was short-lived, the top of the 7th opened with an error putting a runner on base, and after Cornelio set down the next two batters Tech’s LF Easton Murrell deposited a full count offering over the right field wall to tie the game again. Augie Mihlbauer entered for Cornelio and promptly struck out Jace Jung to end the inning. TCU took the lead for good in the bottom of the 7th as a Taylor RBI single scored Elijah Nunez and a Reed Spenrath fielder’s choice scored Tommy Sacco. Gray Rodgers added an insurance home run in the 8th, but the insurance wasn’t necessary as Luke Savage came on for two perfect innings, including 4 Ks, for his first save of the season.
Game 2: TCU 4, Texas Tech 3
Don’t let the controversial finish to this game distract from the fact that Kurtis Byrne and David Bishop absolutely feasted on Red Raider pitching Friday night. The First Baseman Bishop finished 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored; it was Catcher Byrne sending him home, going 3 for 4 himself with 2 doubles good for 2 RBI and a run scored. The Frogs’ fourth run was added thanks to a wild pitch allowing pinch hitter Sam Thompson to score. On the defensive end, Starting Pitcher Marcelo Perez tossed a gem in 5 innings of work, fanning 6 batters while giving up no runs on just 2 hits and 3 walks. Caleb Bolden entered in relief and pitched two scoreless innings and was sent back out to open the 8th, but beaned the leadoff man and walked Jung on four pitches, prompting Coach Saarloos to call on River Ridings for a two inning save opportunity. A two-strike single loaded the bases for Tech SS Kurt Wilson, whose single TCU’s 4-run lead in half. Ridings settled in by striking out a pinch hitter and getting a pair of line outs. Then came the 9th inning, where the real fun started. Tech lead off with a double, hit batter, and wild pitch advancing the tying runs into scoring position. TCU gave Jung his third free pass of the game to load the bases and another walk brought home a run to reduce the Frog lead to just one with one out. After an infield pop out secured the 2nd out of the inning, it appeared to be disaster for the Frogs: on a 2-2 count the home plate umpire called a balk on Ridings to tie the game. After a brief conference of the officials, it was quickly and correctly determined that Ridings stepped off to stare down the runner at 3rd (you may recall Texas Tech used a walk-off steal of home to defeat Texas earlier this season), so no balk and the runners all must retreat. Saarloos stuck with Ridings throughout this trouble and down time for Tech head coach Tim Tadlock to throw a temper tantrum at the umpires, and that faith paid off. Ridings induced a ground ball that Gray Rodgers gobbled up and tossed to first to end the game and secure the series victory for the Frogs.
Game 3: TCU 11, Texas Tech 3
Saturday afternoon had no controversy and left no doubt as the Frog bats exploded and Brett Walker picked up his fourth win of the season on the mound. It was all Reed Spenrath early, as the TCU DH sent a bomb 424 feet to deep center to lead off the 2nd and followed it up in the 3rd with an RBI single to score Tommy Sacco. TCU added another in the 4th after Luke Boyers got plunked and eventually scored on a Nunez single. TCU piled on in the 6th and 7th. A Nunez fielder’s choice scored one and a 2-out Sacco double that Jace Jung couldn’t handle brought in two more in the 6th.
In the 7th, a Thompson bases loaded walk brought around Bishop then a Nunez double emptied the bases for 3 RBI. TCU extended the big lead in tthe 8th with a Kurtis Byrne triple for another Bishop run scored. Mihlbauer and Savage got in the action again out of the bullpen, with Drew Hill working a scoreless 9th to close the game and give TCU the series sweep over the Red Raiders.
A statement series for the Horned Frogs that will prove critical in the conference standings and race to the post season. TCU pitching shut down the vaunted Tech hitters: Top MLB prospect Jace Jung was held to 2-8 from the plate with 3 strike outs in the series; 2-hole hitter Cole Stilwell was 0-12 with 4 Ks. The Frogs don’t get time to bask in the success, as they’ll be back in Lupton Tuesday at 6:00 vs. UT Arlington before a roadtrip to Stillwater for a showdown with the #5 OK State Cowboys. TCU climbed to 24-12 overall on the season and 10-5 in Big 12 play; Texas Tech fell to 27-12 overall and 7-5 in the conference.
Notable Series Performances
- Tommy Sacco: 6-12 (2 2B, HR), 1 BB, 3 R, 3 RBI
- David Bishop: 4-10, 2 BB, 5 R
- Kurtis Byrne: 4-12 (2 2B, 3B), 1 BB, 2 R, 4 RBI