To put together the kind of winning streak that TCU has been on since April 1, a team not only needs play at the top of its game, but it also needs a few breaks along the way.
For the most part, the Horned Frogs have needed no such luck while winning 13 in a row and 20 of their last 21 games.
And they didn’t need any breaks Friday night against Oklahoma at Lupton Stadium. But TCU (35-13, 14-5 Big 12) got some anyway from the Sooners to win 10-2 in front of 4,046. Five of TCU’s runs were unearned thanks to three OU errors. The No. 19 Frogs, who had scored 31 runs on 31 hits in its past two games combined, including 13 hits Friday, has seen its offense overshadow its pitching staff recently.
“We’re all feeling good and everybody is confident in what they’re doing,” TCU center fielder Cody Jones said. “We’re putting good swings on the good pitches and spitting on balls that don’t need to be hit. When that happens it’s a lot of fun to play this game.”
TCU ace Brandon Finnegan pitched for the first time since missing last weekend’s start because of soreness in his throwing shoulder. He struggled in the first, giving up two runs on four hits. He regrouped, however, and retired the next eight batters before OU (26-24, 6-13) collected three consecutive two-out singles in the fourth. A groundout to shortstop ended the threat.
Finnegan (8-2) threw 81 pitches, including 29 in the first inning. He was replaced by Trey Teakell, who started the fifth. Teakell held the Sooners scoreless on three hits in four innings.
“It felt normal again,” Finnegan said of his shoulder. “The first inning was just about getting back into everything, back in a rhythm and getting a feel for every pitch, just getting back to my normal self. After the first inning, I felt like I got it back and started doing my job.”
Finnegan struck out four and allowed seven hits, including six singles.
“I thought it was a huge step in the right direction for him, and I anticipate he’ll have a really good week and a good start next week,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
TCU scored four runs in the third to take the lead. Kyle Bacak led off with a walk, and Cody Jones singled to center. With one out, Boomer White’s potential inning-ending roller to second was misplayed to load the bases. Kevin Cron was hit by a pitch from OU starter Jacob Evans to drive in Bacak. Garrett Crain’s single on the next pitch drove in Jones and White to give TCU a 3-2 lead.
While Jerrick Suiter was at the plate, Cron and Crain took off on a double steal. The Sooners caught Crain in the rundown between first and second base. Meanwhile, Cron rounded third and kept going to scored easily, without drawing the attention of the Sooners, who eventually tagged Crain out.
“The difference between now and the start of the year is we don’t panic anymore and we know we can come back from pretty much any deficit now,” Crain said. “Our pitching is going to keep us in it. Somebody getting a hit in front of you makes you think, ‘yeah, I can do this.’ ”
TCU added two runs in the fourth, a run on Dylan Fitzgerald’s solo homer in the fifth, and three more on four hits and two Sooner errors in the seventh.
“It makes an unbelievable difference for the pitching staff with our offense playing like this,” Teakell said. “They’re finally playing like everyone knew they would. They’re finding their stride, and it makes for a good mix.”