With more than 5,000 fans at Lupton Stadium watching 10 tense innings between Top 25 teams, Sunday’s Big 12 series finale between TCU and Texas had a postseason feel.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle welcomed it.
“Our league’s awesome — two NCAA tournament teams in front of a great crowd,” he said. “The starting pitching we saw all weekend is the kind of starting pitching we’re going to see the rest of the year and in postseason. So it’s all good preparation to give you a better chance to win in the end.”
Against the then-No. 25 Longhorns, No. 7 TCU faced the league leaders in ERA and twice knocked the starter out before the third inning.
Sunday, Kyle Johnston pitched into the seventh for Texas, requiring the Frogs to rally against the bullpen for a win in extra innings to sweep the series.
Shortstop Ryan Merrill hit .417 in the series for TCU, driving in four runs and scoring five runs. Catcher Evan Skoug had four extra-base hits, slugging 1.167.
The Frogs’ .306 batting average and 14 extra-base hits in the series provide evidence that the offense is heating up with the Big 12 regular season championship in sight, the Big 12 tournament beginning May 24 and the NCAA playoffs beginning June 2.
TCU, which rose to No. 6 in the Baseball America rankings, is in line to host a regional and earn a national seed, meaning home-field advantage for the first two rounds.
“I’ve said all year I felt like our best baseball was ahead of us,” Schlossnagle said. “We had that conversation this week with the older guys. There’s a fine line between a sense of urgency and panic. You’ve got to have the sense of urgency — it’s time to go, you’ve got to start putting together better at-bats the way we’re capable, but you can’t overdo it to where you’re panicked or over-try, because that’s a negative thing in baseball.”
9 Consecutive victories in extra innings for TCU since 2015, including six this season. TCU is 39-17 in extra innings since 2004.
Catcher Evan Skoug homered three times and drove in six runs in the series for TCU. Two of his hits, a home run Friday night and a double Sunday, tied the game in the late innings for TCU.
“He’s really locked in, that’s for sure,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s confident. A confident baseball player is a good baseball player, especially if it’s Evan Skoug.”