TCU baseball’s downward slide continued over the weekend, when the Horned Frogs conceded a three-game Big 12 Conference sweep against West Virginia in Morgantown. TCU (22-18, 7-8 Big 12) has lost seven of its last nine games and is now under .500 since the month of April began. The Horned Frogs will host Dallas Baptist for their midweek matchup on Tuesday before taking on the Texas Longhorns at Lupton Stadium this coming weekend.
Friday: West Virginia 5, TCU 4
The Mountaineers gained the early lead in the series opener on Friday, with Landon Wallace sending a two-run homer over the fence during the first inning and Sam White adding a three-run blast in the fourth inning. Freshman Kole Klecker went five innings in his first Friday start of the season for the Horned Frogs, allowing six hits and five earned runs with four walks and four strikeouts. TCU’s bullpen kept West Virginia off the scoreboard over the final three frames, with Hunter Hodges, Ben Abeldt and Luke Savage combining to hold the Mountaineers hitless over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Not even a fence can stop @Adavis_21 @SportsCenter | #SCTop10 | #FrogballUSA | #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/jXpNhB1YOz— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) April 21, 2023
Trailing 5-1 after four innings, TCU rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth inning, where Kurtis Byrne pounded a ground-rule double down the right-field line to bring home Cole Fontenelle and Austin Davis, who made a spectacular catch along the foul-line fence in right field earlier in the game. The Horned Frogs cut the West Virginia lead to one run after Davis sent an RBI double into right field during the top of the seventh inning. TCU was unable to cash in over the final two frames, however, and the Horned Frogs ultimately finished with 10 runners left on base including seven over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings alone.
Saturday: West Virginia 7, TCU 4
An RBI double from Cole Fontenelle and an RBI groundout from designated hitter Logan Maxwell gave TCU a 2-0 lead over the Mountaineers after one-and-a-half innings on Saturday. The Horned Frogs also got a rare quality start in the middle game, with freshman right-hander Louis Rodriguez going five frames with five strikeouts, zero walks and three earned runs allowed. Freshman catcher Karson Bowen laced a two-run single into left field during the top of the fifth inning to put the Horned Frogs ahead of the Mountaineers 4-1.
B5 | Louis Rodriguez sits the side down in order. He collects his fifth strikeout of the game in the inning.— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) April 22, 2023
TCU 4, WVU 1 - End 5#FrogballUSA | #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/KZff2xF1Z1
TCU couldn’t hold the three-run lead, however, with West Virginia scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to flip the game on its head. Veteran right-handers Luke Savage and Ryan Vanderhei were unable to relieve Rodriguez, surrendering three hits and three earned runs while combining to record only one out. Right-hander Cohen Feser did come through out of the bullpen, though, tossing two and two-thirds innings of shutout relief to keep the Horned Frogs within striking distance. Stranded runners were once again an issue for the TCU offense, which left 12 runners on base in the loss on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday: West Virginia 17, TCU 7
The Horned Frogs failed to show up in the series finale on Sunday, with the Mountaineers scoring two first-inning runs after a TCU error before exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Right-handers Sam Stoutenborough and Cam Brown each failed to record a single out in the loss, with the two veteran pitchers combining to walk four batters and allow six earned runs. Brown, who has lost his spot in the starting rotation, walked three consecutive batters and threw two wild pitches before exiting the game in the fourth frame.
Left-hander River Ridings also failed to record an out, conceding two hits and one earned run after becoming the eighth pitcher to enter the game. TCU pitchers combined to surrender 15 earned runs, nine walks, eight strikeouts, four wild pitches and three hit batters. Despite trailing 11-1 after four innings, TCU’s offense showed fight over the middle frames, with Cole Fontenelle belting a grand slam for his 10th home run of the season before center fielder Elijah Nunez added a two-run shot in the top of the sixth inning. West Virginia sealed the win with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth inning, however.
Left-handed freshman Ben Abeldt started on the mound for the Horned Frogs, allowing five hits and three earned runs while finishing with three walks and four strikeouts. Right-hander Garrett Wright remained hot despite entering in an extremely low-leverage scenario, firing two and one-third innings with four strikeouts while keeping the Mountaineers scoreless.