TCU baseball hosted No. 16 Oklahoma State for a critical Big 12 Conference series over the weekend, overcoming a loss on Thursday with consecutive wins on Friday and Saturday to claim the series against the Cowboys 2-1. The Horned Frogs (20-12, 7-5 Big 12) managed to remain near the top of the conference baseball standings while also reclaiming a top-25 ranking in the newest D1Baseball.com poll, where TCU sits at No. 25 in the nation. The Horned Frogs will face Abilene Christian on the road Tuesday before coming back to Lupton Stadium for a three-game nonconference series against the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.
Friday: Oklahoma State 7, TCU 6
The Horned Frogs changed their weekend rotation for the series against the Cowboys, with freshman left-hander Chase Hoover getting the start on Thursday instead of veteran right-hander Ryan Vanderhei. Hoover lasted four innings against a talented Oklahoma State offense, conceding seven earned runs but finishing with six strikeouts. The Cowboys took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Horned Frogs answered after outfielder Austin Davis tied the game with an RBI single up the middle in the bottom half of the frame.
Two home runs in the top of the second inning pushed Oklahoma State back ahead 5-2. TCU showed some power of its own during the bottom of the third inning, where infielder Cole Fontenelle launched a solo blast of his own to bring the Cowboys within two runs. Another Oklahoma State homer, this time from Roc Riggio, gave the Cowboys a 7-3 lead in the top of the fourth inning. TCU slowly clawed its way back into the game, with outfielder Luke Boyers working a bases-loaded walk for one run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
RBI singles from catcher Kurtis Byrne and infielder Brayden Taylor made the score 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Horned Frogs were unable to find the tying run in the ninth inning, where Oklahoma State’s Isaac Stebens shut down the side. TCU’s relief pitching kept the Horned Frogs in the game, with Vanderhei firing three shutout innings while successfully working around three walks and two hits allowed. Left-hander River Ridings added one and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, finishing with two walks and two strikeouts. UNC-Wilmington transfer Hunter Hodges made his long-awaited TCU debut after recovering from an injury, chipping in one-third of a scoreless frame on the mound.
Friday: TCU 7, Oklahoma State 3
Freshman right-hander Kole Klecker took the ball for the second game and turned in a quality outing once again, throwing seven innings with five strikeouts and only four hits allowed. Now 6-2 on the season, Klecker boasts a 3.48 ERA and has been arguably TCU’s strongest starting pitcher this season, with his last five outings lasting at least five frames. Freshman left-hander Ben Abeldt entered with a four-run lead and preserved the victory, closing the game with two shutout frames while striking out four Oklahoma State batters.
Freshman shortstop Anthony Silva was stellar in the field and at the plate, launching a game-tying solo blast in the bottom of the fourth inning before crushing his second long ball of the evening in the bottom of the fifth inning, where TCU tallied four runs to take a 5-2 lead over the Cowboys. The four-run frame also included an RBI single from Fontenelle, who brought another Horned Frog runner home on an RBI groundout in the bottom of the sixth inning, where TCU added two runs to its lead to make the score 7-2 over Oklahoma State.
A solo shot earned one run back for the Cowboys in the top of the seventh inning, but the Horned Frogs held the Oklahoma State offense at bay for the remainder of the contest. Silva, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the TCU offense, has earned his way into a higher slot in the Horned Frog batting order in recent games. Hitting sixth on Friday, Silva now has a .367 batting average with five home runs and 26 RBIs. Infielder Tre Richardson went 2-for-4 with one RBI and currently holds a .315 batting average on the season.
Saturday: TCU 12, Oklahoma State 5
Veteran right-hander Cam Brown took the mound in the rubber matchup, manuvering around some early trouble but ultimately lasting only three innings with four walks and five earned runs allowed. TCU’s bullpen answered the call once again, though, with right-hander Sam Stoutenborough tossing three and two-thirds innings of no-hit baseball with four strikeouts. Right-hander Garrett Wright entered to close the game, throwing two and one-thirds innings of shutout relief with four more strikeouts to earn the win. Stoutenborough lowered his ERA to 2.78 with 25 strikeouts and eight walks, while Wright knocked his ERA down to 3.97 with nine strikeouts and one walk in his last three appearances.
Byrne gave the Horned Frogs a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning, pounding a three-run homer to center field that set the tone for the TCU offense. While Oklahoma State tallied four runs in the top of the third inning to retake the lead, TCU answered in the bottom of the fourth inning, where outfielder Elijah Nunez made the score 5-5 after slapping an RBI double to right field. The game remained even until the bottom of the eighth inning, where the Horned Frogs exploded for seven runs to put the Cowboys out of reach.
A wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk allowed the Horned Frogs to surge ahead 7-5 before Nunez delivered a two-run single to extend the TCU lead. RBI doubles from Richardson and Taylor brought three more runners home to cap off the seven-run effort in the bottom of the eighth inning. Byrne led the Horned Frog offense with four RBIs in the victory, while Nunez went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Silva went 2-for-3 with two runs scored on Saturday.