As he stood in the batter’s box with runners on first and second, Evan Skoug got what he wanted.
Besides a good pitch to hit, that is.
He got the scene he was looking for when he signed with TCU as one of the nation’s top high school power hitters.
“I wanted to come here so I could play in front of however many — 6,000 — fans against UT,” he said. “I chose here because I knew I had a good chance to get in the lineup and play every day. I wanted to be in the spotlight, I wanted to show everyone I can do what they say I can do.”
They say he can hit, and he is showing it.
On the first pitch, Skoug hammered a ball to deep right center field to score both runners, and TCU was on the way to a 7-1 victory and a sweep of a Big 12 series against Texas. Skoug doubled again in the sixth inning, took third on a fly ball and scored on a fly ball.
“It was awesome,” he said with a grin and replayed the scenes in his mind. “I couldn’t imagine how full that berm was. I didn’t picture that. It was incredible.”
Sunday’s attendance of 4,598 pushed the weekend attendance to 14,052, fourth all-time at Lupton.
Skoug is making an impression. The freshman catcher from Libertyville, Ill., is the team leader in doubles with 11, is slugging .404 and has a team-high 29 runs batted in. He has scored 26 runs, fifth most on the team, and has walked 13 times, third most on the team.
“We knew he was an offense-first player. There’s no doubt about that,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “That’s what attracted professional baseball to him, was his bat. It’s just a matter of whether he was going to catch enough. He’s definitely shown that he can catch. We’re asking a lot of him — hitting in the middle of the order, hitting every day, catching both ends of the doubleheader Saturday.
“He’s an elite player, an elite recruit, and when you have guys like that, you’ve got to play them.”
Skoug wound up 3 for 4 as the Horned Frogs (34-8, 10-5) won their eighth consecutive game since an unsettling series loss at Kansas State two weeks ago. The sweep of the conference series against Texas (22-22, 8-10) put TCU even with Oklahoma State in win percentage in the league, each at .667. Oklahoma State, however, has played three more games, has two more wins, and owns a series win against TCU.
The Horned Frogs are also even in conference record with Oklahoma, where they finish the regular season.
But is TCU starting to play its best ball?
“No, not at all,” Schlossnagle said. “We played very sloppy defense throughout the weekend, and that’s the hallmark of our team — pitching and defense. If we have a weekend where we score some runs, that’s great. I think we’re improving as an offensive team.”
The Horned Frogs committed seven errors in the series, including one by starting pitcher Alex Young (8-2) on Sunday in the fourth inning that put runners on first and second with no outs in a 3-1 game.
Young, who began the inning by allowing a home run to Tres Barrera, then went to 3-0 on the next batter, Bret Boswell, who was trying to bunt the runners over.
But Young got the next two pitches in for strikes, Boswell bunted a third strike foul, and on a 1-2 pitch, Young induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“That was a big turning point in the game, for sure,” Schlossnagle said.
In the sixth inning, Nolan Brown’s sacrifice fly and Elliot Barzilli’s home run gave TCU more breathing room at 5-1, and two more runs scored on an error in the eighth. Brown finished with three RBIs, pitching in another sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice.
“All in all, great weekend,” Schlossnagle said.
▪ Schlossnagle won his 499th game at TCU. He is 576-276 in a 14-year career.
▪ It was the 19th time TCU held the opponent to a run or less.
▪ The Horned Frogs are 24-2 at home this year. They have four games left at Lupton — a three-game series against Kansas in two weeks and a game against Abilene Christian.
▪ Schlossnagle clarified that the Texas coaches thought Preston Morrison hit Joe Baker on purpose in Game 1 on Saturday. The teams cleared the air and everyone shook hands as normal Sunday.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760