TCU baseball entered the weekend with the most runs scored by any team in the Big 12, and the second-most in the country with 304 through 36 games. The Frogs showed that offensive firepower in the opening two games against Kansas, rolling to a 15-1 victory on Friday and a 10-3 victory on Saturday.
But TCU had a rare off day at the plate Sunday, falling 2-1 and failing to sweep KU in the series finale at Lupton Stadium. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak by the Frogs (29-10).
“We didn’t take care of the business that we needed to take care of,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “You need to credit their lefty today. He made a lot of great pitches and battled. We had plenty of opportunities.”
Yes, TCU did.
TCU had runners at second and third with no outs in the fourth and fifth innings. Both times the Frogs came away empty-handed.
TCU got the potential game-tying run in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings, too, but couldn’t drive it in. The one run marked the lowest run total by TCU in Big 12 play, and the lowest since an 11-1 loss to Texas State on March 9.
KU left-hander Eli Davis pitched out of the jams in the fourth and fifth innings, finishing with 10 strikeouts. Davis needed 111 pitches to get through five innings, but allowed just one run on four hits. KU reliever Daniel Hegarty followed with three scoreless innings, and then Jonah Ulane closed out the ninth.
In all, TCU struck out 12 times and left 15 on base.
“We’re a team that gets on base a lot. Normally we drive those in,” Schlossnagle said. “Of course it’s alarming, but I think we’ve proven ourselves over 39 games that we’re a good offensive team.
“Days like this can happen. We understand it. There’s nobody more disappointed or upset than our team.”
The silver lining is that TCU still won the series. And the pitching and defense were good enough to win on Sunday.
The Frogs didn’t have their normal weekend rotation with left-hander Russell Smith missing the series. With Smith sidelined, Austin Krob pitched Friday and Johnny Ray started Saturday. Both Krob and Ray shined with eight-inning outings in big wins by the Frogs.
Reliever Charles King made the spot start on Sunday, and allowed two runs over 3 2/3 innings. River Ridings came through with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief followed by two scoreless innings by Haylen Green. The defense played a flawless game for the 20th time this season.
The issue, of course, was the offense.
“We’re top five in the country at scoring runs, but this is why you have to respect the game,” Schlossnagle said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given day when you don’t play good baseball.”
TCU’s next game is at UT Arlington on Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at Clay Gould Ballpark. The Frogs are expected to start freshman Luke Savage. Savage burned his redshirt season by making his college debut last Tuesday against UTA.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s series at West Virginia, Schlossnagle expects Smith to return to the rotation.
“As of now, Russell feels great,” Schlossnagle said. “He should be back next weekend.”
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