Three home runs and a strong start from Brian Howard powered No. 6 TCU to an 8-5 victory against Baylor and a win of the Big 12 series Sunday at Lupton Stadium, keeping the team in first place.
All of that is good.
But the Horned Frogs had to test their bullpen depth way more than they wanted to.
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It was too close for comfort for coach Jim Schlossnagle, who last week watched Feltman hit a batter and walk three in blowing his first career save at TCU.
By winning the series, TCU came out of the weekend with a two-game lead on two teams in the Big 12.
“Everybody’s allowed to go through a slump,” Schlossnagle said of Feltman, third all-time at TCU in saves. “Luckily we scored some runs to give us a cushion, and Haylen and Dalton got the outs we needed. There’s no question it’s a concern. But there’s no Triple A. There’s nobody to call up. There’s no trades you’re allowed to make. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ll just keep attacking it that way until he gets back to where he’s right.”
Cam Warner and Evan Skoug homered back-to-back in the third inning for TCU (30-8, 11-4 Big 12), and Austen Wade homered in the seventh inning for a 4-2 lead.
Elliott Barzilli’s two-run double highlighted a four-run eighth that gave the Frogs an 8-2 lead.
It all made a winner of Brian Howard (6-2), who lost a chance at a win last week at West Virginia because of ninth-inning bullpen issues.
I think that showed a lot about our team to bounce back today and win a series. That’s a big series win, if you look across the league.
TCU pitcher Brian Howard
“I think that showed a lot about our team to bounce back today and win a series,” he said after going 5 2/3 innings, allowing only an earned run and striking out six. “That’s a big series win, if you look across the league. A lot of teams are playing good baseball, so that’s a good pickup for us.”
Sean Wymer pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, getting No. 3 hitter Shea Langeliers to ground out to shortstop after entering with a runner at second base and a 2-0 count in the sixth inning.
Wymer’s outing got the game to the ninth inning, which Feltman opened with a strikeout before issuing walks on 3-1, 3-1 and 3-0 counts. Green also issued a five-out walk before getting a strikeout on three pitches and giving up a double on an 0-2 pitch.
That brought in Brown, a sophomore right-hander making just his fifth appearance and basically the weekend’s final available bullpen arm.
Facing Langeliers with runners at second and third, Brown struck him out on three pitches.
Executed three pitches in a row and did it with a smile on his face and wasn’t fazed at all.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, on Dalton Brown in the ninth inning
“Did a great job against a real good hitter,” Schlossnagle said. “Executed three pitches in a row and did it with a smile on his face and wasn’t fazed at all.”
It was the first career save for Brown, a former Arlington Heights standout now with 14 career innings at TCU.
“Really just treated it like any other day,” Brown said. “Just like the sim games you practice. I just tried to execute fastballs and execute my slider like I’ve been doing. I came in to execute pitches. That’s what I was going to do.”
Bradford, Phillips (4), Kettler (7), Hill (8), Heineman (8), Montemayor (8) and Langeliers. Howard, Wymer (6), Feltman (9), Green (9), Brown (9) and Skoug. W—Howard (6-2). L—Bradford (4-3). Sv—Brown (1). 2B—BU: Cunningham (8), Dodson (4); TCU: Brown (7), Barzilli (10). HR—TCU: Wade (4), Skoug (9). SH—BU: Wendzel. SF—TCU: Wade (2). SB—BU: Esthay (2). LOB—BU 7, TCU 6. E—BU: Wendzel (6); TCU: Landestoy (2). T—3:03. A—5,227. RECORDS—Baylor 24-16, 6-9 Big 12; TCU 30-8, 11-4.