Sooner or later, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said last week, the offense would have to win a game for the Horned Frogs.
The pitching staff, which has been on fire for over a month, finally caught a breather Sunday at Lupton Stadium. TCU exploded for a season-high 18 hits to sweep Kansas State with a 21-7 run-rule win in seven innings.
The Frogs (34-13, 13-5 Big 12) won their 12th consecutive game and 19th of their last 20, a stretch unseen at TCU since 1993. The win puts TCU in a tie with Oklahoma State (35-13, 13-5) atop the Big 12 standings. Both teams have six league games remaining.
TCU hosts Oklahoma (26-23, 6-12) next weekend and finishes with three at Baylor (22-27, 7-13) on May 15-17.
The Cowboys are at K-State (23-25, 4-14) and finish with OU (one game in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa). OSU took two of three from TCU earlier this season to hold the tiebreaker.
The Frogs are off Tuesday for final exams before hosting the Sooners on Friday.
TCU batted around three times, including in the fifth and sixth innings when the Frogs scored seven and 10 runs. And like Schlossnagle predicted, TCU needed the offensive outburst after the Wildcats took leads of 3-0 and 7-4, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic walks and fielding errors rarely seen during TCU’s 19-1 stretch since April 1.
TCU rallied for four runs in the bottom of the second after KSU took a 3-0 lead against starter Jordan Kipper. The Frogs batted around and took advantage of a two-out error by KSU shortstop Austin Fisher. Dylan Fitzgerald doubled in the first run and Derek Odell drove in two with a single to left.
Fitzgerald was 4 for 5 with four RBIs and four runs scored.
“It was good to answer early, and they scored again and we had a couple really big answers,” said Boomer White, who had five RBIs on three hits. “It’s nice to know the offense can carry us when we need it.
“Eventually, they didn’t have answers for our bats and that’s always awesome.”
Indeed, K-State came right back with four runs without a hit to reclaim the lead in the third inning against Alex Young, who had replaced Kipper. Three walks and two errors helped the Wildcats regain a 7-4 lead.
The Frogs batted around in the fifth as White collected two hits in the inning, a leadoff single and a three-run double that gave TCU an 11-7 lead. Kyle Bacak’s two-run single gave TCU the lead for good at 8-7.
In the sixth, Garrett Crain and Fitzgerald both collected two hits as TCU pounded K-State’s thin bullpen for 10 runs on eight hits.
The 21 runs are the most by TCU since the Frogs scored 28 against Dayton in the College Station Regional in June 2012.
“It’s awesome to pitch poorly and play poor defense for half the game and still win the game,” Schlossnagle said. “That’s a sign of a good club that’s playing well. They’re confident enough not to let that snowball further into the game.”
Trey Teakell (4-0) held KSU to one hit in the final three innings to earn the win.
“We have good pitching, but when they do that it makes us even better because then we can come in and do what we do best, which is attacking batters,” Teakell said. “We’re clicking on all cylinders right now. We’re finding a perfect mix of pitching and offense. It’s a perfect storm for us right now.”