The disheartening, streak-ending loss No. 19 TCU suffered Saturday wasn’t allowed to linger.
The Horned Frogs left the gloom of that extra-inning defeat in the rearview mirror Sunday with a convincing 9-1 win at Lupton Stadium to take the series against Oklahoma in front of 3,485 in attendance.
TCU (36-14, 15-6 Big 12) trails Oklahoma State (38-13, 16-5) by one game in the Big 12 race with three league games remaining. After hosting UT Arlington on Tuesday night, TCU finishes the regular season with three games at Baylor (22-27, 7-13), beginning Thursday.
The Cowboys, who’ve won nine in a row, finish against Oklahoma (27-25, 7-14), with the first game played in Oklahoma City and the final two in Tulsa.
“That’s championship-level baseball,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of Sunday’s victory. “To have a win streak broken the way in which it happened, emotionally. To come back out and pretty much leave no doubt in what was our biggest game of the year with trying to stay in the conference race and playing for what we’re playing for.”
The final four regular-season games remain huge for TCU because hosting an NCAA Regional and earning a national seed are still there for the taking.
Multiple losses against UTA and Baylor, which rank Nos. 114 and 95 in the latest ratings percentage index on Sunday, is likely to doom any hope of TCU earning its first national seed. The top eight national seeds get to host the NCAA Super Regionals if they advance.
TCU freshman left-hander Tyler Alexander came up big again Sunday. The former Southlake Carroll star held the Sooners to five hits in a season-high eight innings, striking out three and walking none.
Since returning to the starting rotation April 19, Alexander (7-3) has allowed just three runs in 27 innings. He’s struck out 14 with no walks in that span. Alexander said the enormity of Sunday’s game was clear to the team.
“We had such a long winning streak and to have that kind of loss kind of hurt, but we had guys who came out and responded really well,” he said.
The Frogs scored four runs in the second inning and five in the fourth to build an early lead.
Kevin Cron, Garrett Crain and Jerrick Suiter started the second with singles, and Dylan Fitzgerald walked to force in the first run. Keaton Jones and Kyle Bacak followed with run-scoring singles and another run scored on Cody Jones’ 6-4-3 double play.
Three OU errors helped TCU add five runs in the fourth. Boomer White’s bases-clearing double scored three runs and Cron’s sacrifice fly made it 9-1.
“[Saturday’s loss] was a kick to the groin,” White said. “We came out and fought just like we have for the last 22 games or whatever. It makes a statement about us, and we like that with our momentum going into next week and into the [Big 12] tournament.”
“I know [Oklahoma State] is playing hot as a firecracker. We can’t control what they do, but we can definitely control what we do and we’re doing a good job of that. These are the biggest games of the year for us.”
Alexander forced 13 groundball outs, and TCU turned three double plays. Derek Odell, who felt like he cost TCU Saturday’s game with a couple errors at third base, made three sterling defensive plays on Sunday.
“It feels good. [Alexander] worked with a great pace all day and he pounded the strike zone with all his pitches,” said Odell, who made two diving stops down the line. “He did his job, and we always feel as an infield behind him we have to do our jobs.”