TCU Baseball’s season came to an end last night following a gut-wrenching 15-9 loss against Texas A&M in the College Station Regional Final.
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty of the game, I want to preface this by saying the Frogs never quit. This group had their backs against the wall countless times this season, and it seemed fitting to end things on a do-or-die game shared with a pretty hefty rival.
Numerous times in that ballgame, Frog fans hung their head thinking “Well, that’s that,” but the Frogs clawed their way back in every time. Kirk Saarloos did an amazing job in his first year as head coach; this is the type of ball club I’m proud to say I’m a fan of.
Now, for the game itself. Based on the way things started, if you were to tell me the game would finish with 24 combined runs on 24 combined hits, I would have called you crazy.
Now if you told me the game would start on Sunday night and end on Monday morning, that I might have believed based on these team’s lengthy meetings in the past.
To open the day, Austin Krob was on another planet while on the mound. Despite Aggie fans chanting “Austin” in a variety of different jingles and beats literally every single pitch, he never let that get to him.
In 5.1 innings pitched, Krob finished with 8 strikeouts. He left the game with a donut on the scoreboard but runners on base, who would eventually score once Luke Savage was brought on in the 5th, so Krob was credited with 2 earned runs.
This was big time for Krob, who hasn’t thrown more than 2 innings since March 13. After a performance like that, you’ve got to feel for the kid as he did everything he could to set his team up for success, but the bullpen couldn’t come through in the clutch.
“I thought Austin Krob was phenomenal in terms of what he did in the first six innings,” said Saarloos. “He did just enough in terms of pitching ahead, and then threw some really good breaking balls.”
Once Krob was pulled, things went south in a hurry. The Frogs maintained a 3-0 lead through 5 innings and hadn’t really let the Aggies string anything together, until the 6th…
The Aggies dropped a whopping 15 runs in 4 innings on the Horned Frogs’ bullpen, and it all started with a disastrous 7th inning.
Krob was relieved for Luke Savage with two runners on base in the top of the 6th. I’ll keep things short and sweet: both runners scored, then Savage gave up three straight hits in the 7th featuring a Dylan Rock three-run home run off the batters eye in dead center-field.
This prompted the Frogs to change things up on the mound… several times. TCU used four different pitchers in the 7th inning alone (Savage, Mihlbauer, Wright, Ridings), but nothing they tried seemed to slow down the Aggies’ bats.
Aside from giving up an abundance of runs, the 7th inning might have been the longest single inning of baseball the Frogs have played all season. Over a full hour just to get through six outs, and I’m sure A&M’s run took up at least 40 minutes of that. It seemed like it would never end.
The Frogs were in the driver seat for over half the ballgame, but one bad stretch cost them, and they were facing a 7-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the 7th.
This is one of those moments I mentioned before, where this team could have easily hung their heads and called it a day, but no. What did they do? They fought. Immediately after giving up 5 runs in an inning, the Frogs tallied 4 of their own featuring a Tommy Sacco RBI down the third base line and a 3-run Brayden Taylor bomb to level the score.
“When they [A&M] scored those five runs, we believed in our offense and came in saying ‘let’s do something weird,” said Sacco. “Let’s see what we can manage to come out with.’ We ended up coming back, but unfortunately, it didn’t fall in our favor.”
This was just the beginning of what turned into a sweat-inducing roller coaster of events, as the score became a see-saw for the final stretch.
Don’t let the final score fool you, this game was back and forth up until the final three outs.
- Mid 7: TCU 3-7 A&M
- End 7: TCU 7-7 A&M
- Mid 8: TCU 7-8 A&M
- End 8: TCU 9-8 A&M
- Mid 9: TCU 9-15 A&M
A clutch 2-run homer from Tommy Sacco in the 8th inning appeared to be all the Frogs needed to propel themselves to victory, but again, the bullpen couldn’t come through.
“Moving forward, any Major League Baseball team that’s looking for a guy that has had some struggles and came out on the other end, that’s the name of the game in professional baseball. He’s [Sacco] going to get an opportunity to do that,” said Saarloos.
River Ridings was the one to finally stop the bleeding in the 7th with two big-time strikeouts to end it, but it got rough for him down the stretch. Despite not entering the game until the 7th inning, Ridings was credited with the loss in this one after giving up 3 earned runs on just 10 batters faced.
Caleb Bolden and Drew Hill round out the Horned Frog pitchers thrown in last night’s contest, and it’s safe to say it didn’t go much better. Bolden gave up 5 earned runs on 4 hits with 2 walks on 8 batters faced.
All in all, this one stings. It seems like every time these programs meet in the postseason we see fireworks, and that’s exactly what we got last night despite it not going the Frogs way.
The Aggies move on to face the winner of Louisville/Michigan in the superregional round, while the Frogs call it a season.
The regular-season Big 12 champion Horned Frogs finished the year 36-22, qualifying for their 16th postseason appearance in the last 18 years. Not too shabby for a first-year head coach, eh?
The Frogs have plenty to be proud of from this season and should have no reason to hang their head after putting up a huge fight against a really good ballclub.
This team will be back. ‘Til next season, #GoFrogs.