TCU baseball starts weekend by beating rain and KU’s best pitcher

TCU pitcher Preston Morrison, throwing earlier this season, pitched out of several jams Friday to deliver a series-opening victory over Kansas.
TCU pitcher Preston Morrison, throwing earlier this season, pitched out of several jams Friday to deliver a series-opening victory over Kansas. Special to the Star-Telegram

Trying to beat the weather and make sure his team got its best chance to win what might be a one-game series, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle looked over his roster and picked his most trustworthy pitcher — like a golfer might pick his best club.

Preston Morrison didn’t disappoint.

The senior right-hander allowed just an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings Friday afternoon, and Trey Teakell and Riley Ferrell did the rest in a 4-2 Big 12 victory at Lupton Stadium against Kansas and its best pitcher.

“If there was only one game played this weekend, and that’s their best pitcher — no disrespect to anyone else, but I wanted our best pitcher to pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “Their guys are swinging a lot better versus lefties than righties, so we matched up best-on-best.”

Kansas still put a lot of good swings on Morrison (11-1), collecting eight hits against him. But the veteran never caved despite two errors behind him and pitching with base runners in every inning except for two. Instead, he kept the No. 4 Horned Frogs (38-9, 14-5) close against Kansas’ Ben Krauth until they could score three runs in the fifth for the lead.

“Some of my pitches weren’t doing what they were supposed to; they were finding some holes out there,” Morrison said. “But I felt pretty good about how I went about it. My process was pretty good. All in all, it’s a win, so I felt pretty good about it.”

Schlossnagle did, too, if only because he got a win out of what might be the only game in the series.

Rain is expected Saturday and Sunday. First pitch Saturday was moved up from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. to account for the weather. Sunday’s game remains at 1 p.m. because it’s scheduled for national television on FS2.

Kansas (22-29, 7-12) initially put itself in position to win the game.

Right fielder Nolan Brown slipped on wet grass and misplayed a fly ball from Joven Afenir. The three-base error became a run on Matt McLaughlin’s single, and Kansas led 1-0 in the fourth.

But the Jayhawks victimized Krauth with their own mistakes. In the fifth, a hit batsman, error and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Cody Jones’ double-play ground ball resulted in a run, but after Dane Steinhagen walked and stole second, Connor Wanhanen singled for a 3-1 lead.

Wanhanen, who finished with two hits, shot a 2-2 breaking ball hard up the middle.

“It was a big situation; I knew that,” the freshman designated hitter said. “The guys did a great job setting that up. I knew he was going to throw me a bunch of breakers. I swung just under one to get to two strikes.”

With a smile, Wanhanen added, “I said, ‘Please throw it again.’”

The victory put the Frogs’ magic number at four for clinching the regular-season Big 12 championship. It was their seventh consecutive victory in conference play.

Ferrell’s save was his 12th of the season, locking up what had been a bit of a tightrope day for Morrison and the Frogs.

“That’s one of the things I pride myself on: they get a hit, we make an error, umpire misses a call — whatever; I don’t want that to affect me at all, because there’s nothing I can do about that,” Morrison said. “So for me, it was just a typical day, just trying to overcome whatever was in my way.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @calexmendez

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