Tuesday night was a tuneup for TCU, and a reminder for backup catcher Zack Plunkett — he’s a valuable part of the team, but hey, brush up on the base running.
The freshman from L.D. Bell broke an 0-for-32 slump with three hits in the Horned Frogs’ 6-1 victory against Incarnate Word at Lupton Stadium. But he made two outs on the bases and almost a third.
“He had a few words for me,” Plunkett said of TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. “They were well-deserved.”
But Plunkett could hardly hold back a smile. He had finally been rewarded for hitting the ball hard, bouncing a hard single between third and short, another up the middle over second base and driving a ball to right-center.
He had been hitless since a Feb. 21 game at Arizona State, when he homered and singled.
But his inexperience on the bases showed in the second inning when he was doubled up at second base on a fly ball to center, costing Derek Odell a sacrifice fly RBI.
In the fourth inning, he was nearly picked off at first base. In the fifth inning, he was out at second trying to stretch a hit to the warning track into a double.
“I realized tonight that I hadn’t been doing much of that this year,” Plunkett said of his base running. “And coming from high school where they just pinch-run for the catchers every time you get on base, it’s definitely a different environment being out there.
“It’s definitely something I’m going to work on in practice this week, because I plan on being out there a lot more.”
Plunkett has played in 17 games behind starting catcher Evan Skoug, who began the night second on the team in hits and tied for the lead in home runs.
“He’s been better the last couple of times he’s gotten to play,” Schlossnagle said of Plunkett. “We have a lot of confidence in Zack. He’s a really good defensive player. He’s a big part of our program. We’ve been telling him that all year.
“Injuries can happen at any time; things can change in an instant. You’ve got to be ready.”
The Horned Frogs (31-8) hope they’re ready for a Big 12 weekend series against Texas.
They have won five straight games — against nonconference opponents UT Arlington, Santa Clara and Incarnate Word — by a combined score of 29-5, and struck out 11 or more in each game since a Big 12 series loss at Kansas State.
“We’ve definitely gotten done what we needed to in the last five games,” Schlossnagle said.
Sophomore right-hander Brian Howard (4-0) struck out a career-high seven in five innings, walking none against Incarnate Word (13-26) of the Southland Conference.
Keaton Jones also had three hits and drove in three runs, including a two-run single with two outs in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. Connor Wanhanen added two hits and drove in a run.
It was the 18th time this season TCU allowed one run or fewer.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407