TCU’s offense struggled for much of the regional last week, batting just .219.
But the Horned Frogs looked a little more like the offense that helped them win 31 of their past 34 games during Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Pepperdine in the opener of the Fort Worth Super Regional at Lupton Stadium.
The Frogs (46-15) collected 11 hits, all singles except for a double from Garrett Crain. TCU was back to working longer counts, fouling off pitches and making Waves ace Corey Miller throw 100 pitches in 5 1/3 innings.
“That’s our M.O.,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We’re not going to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” he said, adding only half-jokingly that “I’d like us to sometime.”
Never miss a local story.
Every hitter in the lineup had at least one hit, except for Boomer White, who walked once and flew out three times.
Schlossnagle’s only complaint was the few occasions that hitters tried to jump on an early pitch. Kevin Cron, who singled and walked twice Saturday, had the bases loaded with no outs in the third when he tried to jump on Miller’s fastball and popped out meekly to short.
“The only time we didn’t [use that approach] was when we swung early in the count,” Schlossnagle said.
TCU collected 10 hits against Miller, the most the senior has allowed this season and tied his career high.
“I made too many mistakes and left the ball up and it cost me,” said Miller, who walked four and allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings. “I have no excuse. I just made too many mistakes, plain and simple.”
Miller, who was forced to contend with base runners in every inning but the first, said it wasn’t a factor in his struggles.
“It shouldn’t matter how many runners are on,” he said.
4 more Frogs drafted
Four TCU players were drafted Saturday in the last day of the MLB First-Year Player draft, bringing the team’s total to six this year. TCU has had six players or more taken in the draft each year since 2010, including a team-high eight in 2011.
First baseman Kevin Cron was drafted in the 14th round (Arizona Diamondbacks), catcher Kyle Bacak was taken in the 25th round (Washington Nationals), Jerrick Suiter went in the 26th round (Pittsburgh Pirates) and outfielder Cody Jones was taken in the 38th round (Cleveland Indians).
Pitcher Brandon Finnegan was taken as the No. 17 overall pick Thursday and pitcher Jordan Kipper was taken in the ninth round by the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
Finnegan has had a dominating career with the Frogs. So it’s odd that the last pitch he’ll throw at Lupton Stadium became a two-run homer in the seventh.
He had just walked the previous batter and had a visit from pitching coach Kirk Saarloos before Pepperdine’s No. 8 hitter, Chris Fornaci, homered to left to cut TCU’s lead to 3-2. That brought Trey Teakell in from the bullpen.
“Surprised? No. Unhappy? Yeah,” Finnegan said with a laugh. “I don’t like to get taken out.”
26 Consecutive innings the TCU bullpen has held opponents scoreless, including 2 2/3 in Saturday’s win.
42 Games TCU has held opponents to two runs or less this season.
“I thought those were exactly the right plays. Kevin [Cron] never stopped running. [Their outfielder] had to throw on the run. That’s how we want to play. He made a great throw.” — TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on Frogs’ base runners being thrown out twice at third base.
“They were able to capitalize on a couple hits and we weren’t. We had a chance to win the game at the end and just couldn’t make contact. [Riley] Ferrell came in and did a hell of a job.” — Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez