TCU’s offense amassed 39 hits and 32 runs in three games against Southern Illinois over the weekend, capping a season-opening series sweep with an 11-0 win Sunday at Lupton Stadium.
The Horned Frogs (3-0) won 5-0 on Friday night and 16-4 on Saturday.
But their production at the plate was only an added benefit of returning most of a pitching staff that compiled a tidy 2.22 ERA during the Frogs’ run to the College World Series last season.
In the 27 innings against the Salukis, TCU’s pitchers gave up one earned run, one extra base hit and struck out 18 batters. As a team, SIU hit .191.
The Frogs’ starters — Preston Morrison on Friday, Tyler Alexander on Saturday and Alex Young on Sunday —combined for 17 innings, allowing no earned runs and walking three batters.
Young, a junior left-hander, delivered the best performance of the weekend, according to TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle.
He pitched six scoreless innings on 75 pitches and struck out four. He gave up three hits and walked one.
“[Young] threw strikes,” Schlossnagle said. “He threw his fastball down in the zone. His misses were really, really small. He threw his breaking ball for strikes. He threw his changeup for strikes. He had all three pitches going today.”
And like Alexander, Young received a burst of run support.
The Frogs collected 10 hits Sunday, following Saturday’s 22-hit barrage, and they started fast, scoring 10 runs in the first three innings.
Connor Wanhanen, TCU’s two-hole hitter, scored on an error before Garrett Crain doubled home Derek Odell in the first inning.
Then, Keaton Jones, who was 6-for-12 for the weekend, grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in Evan Skoug and give the Frogs a 3-0 lead.
TCU added seven runs in the third inning as Crain, Nolan Brown, Elliott Barzilli, Wanhanen and Odell drove in runs.
“I like our lineup — I think we have some athleticism in there,” Schlossnagle said. “The first four innings of the first game we were over-swinging and guys were excited for the first game of the season, chasing balls out of the strike zone. But I thought that the rest of the weekend we did a better job at having better plate discipline, and when we got our pitch, we put a good swing on it.”
TCU also benefited from its first experience with the new NCAA-regulated baseballs, which feature lower seams that make the ball go farther.
Crain, whose two hits Sunday were doubles, first noticed the difference during the team’s intrasquad scrimmages in the fall.
“Fly balls that normally would be routine are taken back further to the wall,” Crain said.
Said Schlossnagle on Saturday, after TCU had three extra-base hits, “The ball is definitely making a difference. There’s no doubt about that.
“That’s happening all across the country if you watch the games and look at the scores and look at the home runs. But I see it every day, and we’ve been seeing it all fall.”
TCU’s pitching staff seemed unaffected by the change, though, at least through three games.
Behind the starters’ success, the TCU bullpen allowed only one run all weekend.
Riley Ferrell and Trey Teakell, the Frogs’ top relievers in 2014, pitched spotless frames Sunday for their first appearances. Teakell worked the eighth inning in order, on 12 pitches, and Ferrell pitched the ninth and struck out the last two batters of the game.
Ferrell switched between his slider and fastball, which topped out at 95 miles an hour.
TCU plays Tuesday at home against UT Arlington. Right-hander Mitchell Traver will start for the Frogs.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760