It’s gotten to the point where no move is off the table for TCU baseball.Coach Jim Schlossnagle, who defended the core of his lineup during the Horned Frogs’ 0-6 start, is trying just about anything and everything to get his team on track.The Frogs (3-8), who open a three-game series against Pacific (4-7) at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lupton Stadium, have done just enough wrong to lose games they normally have won in the past and have not done enough right in the close games against ranked teams like Ole Miss and Cal State Fullerton to win.Tuesday’s loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff was a good example of the former. After TCU took a 4-3 lead in the fifth, its typically steady bullpen let the game get away with hit batters, walks, passed balls and a couple of errors.“The things we kind of hang our hat on as a program — real fundamental baseball — we didn’t do,” Schlossnagle said. “To lose a game is one thing, but to miscommunicate on a bunt, to throw away another bunt, passed balls, wild pitches — the lowest moment is not 3-8, but the way in which we did it.”Preston Morrison (1-1), the Frogs’ steadiest starter this season, is starting Game 1, moving Brandon Finnegan to Game 2. Trevor Seidenberger (1-0), who was dominant in his first start Feb. 26 at Dallas Baptist, will make his second career start Sunday.Schlossnagle would like to count on Stefan Crichton, who has proven the previous two seasons to be more than capable on the mound, as the Tuesday starter. But Crichton has struggled out of the gate this season, including Tuesday against Pine Bluff.TCU has plenty of mid-week pitching options, including Nick Frey, Trey Teakell and Alex Young. In theory, Schlossnagle would like to have available out of the bullpen right-handed power pitcher Riley Ferrell, hard-throwing left-hander Young, the submarine right-hander Justin Scharf and right-hander Andrew Mitchell closing.But if no one besides Morrison provides consistent quality starts, it’s possible Mitchell could return to the rotation. That move likely would make Ferrell the Frogs’ closer, at least for the near future.Meanwhile, TCU is still waiting for its big run producers — Kevin Cron, Jerrick Suiter and Derek Odell — to snap out of season-opening slumps. Both Cron and Suiter are hitting below .100 and have combined for just eight RBIs. Odell is hitting .200 with six RBIs, and Cron is 1 for 35 with five RBIs in the past nine games. Suiter has three hits and three RBIs in nine games and has been replaced in left field by freshman Boomer White.Although TCU has started slowly in the past, it rarely has been this much of a struggle. Last year, the Frogs started 2-6 before ripping off a nine-game winning streak and didn’t lose their eighth game until March 23. Later in the season, TCU lost seven in a 10-game stretch.Even at the end of last season, TCU snapped out of a three-game losing streak to win four consecutive elimination games at the College Station regional to advance to the Super Regional. The bulk of that lineup is on the field now for TCU, including Cron, Suiter and Odell, who led the team’s offense down the stretch last season. All three hit .357 or better the last 20 games, and Cron and Odell each had 30 hits and combined for 40 RBIs.“It’s like a good stock — you have to trust past performance,” Schlossnagle said. “I do trust them because those are really good kids, and they’re working really hard. I know they’re going to come out of it.”TCU could always count on snapping out of slumps against inferior Mountain West pitching in the past. This year, it faces deeper and more talented pitching staffs in the Big 12.The next five games loom large for the Frogs as they try to find their offense and consistent starting pitching before Big 12 play begins. After this weekend, TCU has two nonconference games against Northwestern State before league play begins with Kansas coming to town March 15-17.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs