A month ago, a three-run deficit could cast a pall over the TCU dugout. Even early in a game, with the Horned Frogs’ offense struggling mightily, a 4-1 hole could seem like the bottom of the ocean.
That’s not the case anymore, and TCU proved it Sunday with a 5-4 comeback win against Baylor at Lupton Stadium. The Frogs (19-21, 7-8 Big 12) won the three-game series and pegged the Bears (20-20, 8-6) with their first Big 12 series loss of the season.
“It’s huge,” said Trey Teakell, who earned the win with three innings out of the bullpen. “We’d like to think we’re on a roll right now. We’re just trying to grind out [at least] two wins every series.”
Baylor took a 4-1 lead in the third on Nathan Orf’s two-run double and Cal Towey’s two-run homer against TCU starter Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell’s struggles put the Frogs’ already taxed bullpen on alert.
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But Mitchell recovered and held the Bears to one hit the next three innings. He struck out seven and left with the game tied after the Frogs scored three in the fourth.
“There was no panic; there was no pressing,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “What causes that to happen or not to happen is kind of for me to figure out so we don’t ever get in that mode again. But there was a lot of confidence in our dugout. For us to answer back there in the fourth inning — that was huge.”
TCU scored three times on three hits in the inning to tie it at 4-4. Paul Hendrix walked before Jantzen Witte and Derek Odell followed with doubles. Two runs scored on Odell’s double to the gap in left-center. Jerrick Suiter later singled with two outs to score Odell to tie it.
In the seventh, Baylor’s Crayton Bare replaced Ryan Smith on the mound after Kyle Bacak led off with a single and moved to second on Cody Jones’ sacrifice bunt. Boomer White singled to left, bringing up Hendrix with one out and runners on the corners. Bacak scored the go-ahead run when Hendrix beat out a throw to first on a potential inning-ending double play.
“The coaches have done a good job getting us prepared and giving us motivational speeches,” Odell said. “There was just a different confidence in the dugout today that we felt like we were going to get it done no matter what. And that’s definitely different than it was in the beginning of the year, but it’s nice to have that now.”
The Bears threatened in the eighth and ninth with runners in scoring position, but both times Teakell (3-0) made the pitches to get out of the jam. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 16 2/3 innings out of the bullpen this season and hasn’t allowed any runs in his last 13 1/3 innings.
“Our season has been like that,” said Witte, who had two hits and two runs scored in the game. “They’re all one-run games, so win or lose, we’re in it the whole time. So this felt really good. It gave Trey Teakell a big opportunity to come in and show what he’s got and how tough he is. I think he’s going to get the ball a lot more, and I think it’s going to be good for us.”