TCU

TCU beats Baylor 10-1, sweeps opening Big 12 baseball series

TCU’s Connor Wanhanen is welcomed back t the dugout after scoring in the first inning as the Baylor Bears played the TCU Horned Frogs in NCAA baseball Sunday March 15, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU defeated Baylor 10-1.
TCU’s Connor Wanhanen is welcomed back t the dugout after scoring in the first inning as the Baylor Bears played the TCU Horned Frogs in NCAA baseball Sunday March 15, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU defeated Baylor 10-1. Star-Telegram

The TCU baseball team edged Baylor on Friday and Saturday but got the type of win it wanted Sunday with a 10-1 series-sweeping victory over the Bears at Lupton Stadium.

In the weekend finale, TCU collected 14 hits — including two homers and a double — and scored six runs in the third inning before Baylor even recorded an out.

It was the offensive outburst coach Jim Schlossnagle was seeking after the Frogs, ranked second in the USA Today coaches’ poll, held off the Bears 3-1 on Friday and came back to beat Baylor 3-2 on Saturday.

“Coach [Schlossnagle] challenged us [Saturday], after the game, to come out and help the staff, because they’ve been doing a heck of a job carrying us, pitching and defense,” said freshman designated hitter Connor Wanhanen, who was 3 for 4 Sunday and drove in two runs.

But early in the game, it looked like TCU (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) would still struggle to turn activity into production, despite scoring two runs against Baylor (6-12, 0-3) in the first inning.

Cody Jones led off with a walk, Wanhanen singled and Derek Odell walked, giving cleanup hitter Evan Skoug the bases loaded with no outs. But Skoug flied out to shortstop, and Garrett Crain lifted a soft pop-up to second base. Keaton Jones delivered a two-run single, but Nolan Brown grounded a 2-0 pitch to first base to strand two runners.

Jeremie Fagnan led off the second inning with a home run, his first of the season, but the Frogs stranded runners on the corners with a pop-out and a fielder’s choice.

But after that string of missed opportunities — which followed leaving 14 runners on base the previous two games — TCU’s offense finally provided a cushion for its pitching staff.

The Frogs’ first seven batters of the third inning reached base, a flurry of hits that included an RBI single from Fagnan, two-run singles from Wanhanen and Dane Steinhagen and an RBI double down the left-field line by Cody Jones.

By then, TCU led 9-0, which was plenty of leeway for starting pitcher Alex Young (4-0), who threw six innings of one-run ball. The Frogs’ relievers — Brian Trieglaff, Ryan Burnett and Preston Guillory — allowed only three runners the rest of the game.

It was another strong outing for a staff with a 1.67 ERA and one that provided the patience for TCU’s offense to get going over the weekend. Of the 24 innings TCU batted against Baylor, the Frogs went scoreless in 16. On Sunday, the bats were energized and opportunistic.

“The first inning there, we almost let them off the hook,” Schlossnagle said. “But I challenged our hitters yesterday, and I just told the team, it’s nice when you can challenge a team, and they don’t pout. Take it for what it’s worth, and that doesn’t mean every time you challenge them, you’re going to get this performance, but I think guys were excited to play offense today.”

Notes

▪ Cody Jones went 8 for 9 on the weekend, at one point reaching base 11 straight times. He raised his batting average to a team-high .387 and his on-base percentage to .449.

▪ Closer Riley Ferrell didn’t pitch Sunday, but he’s well on pace to break his own single-season school saves record (15) after notching Nos. 6 and 7 the first two games against Baylor.

▪ Skoug hit his third homer of the season, a solo shot in the sixth inning. The true freshman has batted cleanup every game and is tied with Cody Jones for most total bases (28) on the team.

▪ TCU will play a rare two-game midweek series Tuesday and Wednesday (both at 6:30 p.m.) against UT Pan American at Lupton Stadium. The Frogs return to Big 12 play at home this weekend against Oklahoma State.

Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

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