TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle was a little annoyed at the suggestion his team didn’t play its best Saturday. Why don’t you try finding an answer to Mother Earth’s toughest pitch at TCU’s Lupton Stadium, he countered.
The arduous south wind is indeed capable of beating down the best of hitters at the college level.
But somebody has to win somehow and baseball offers a variety of ways to do that. Sometimes it’s unorthodox.
TCU scored twice on errors, the second lifting TCU to its eighth consecutive Big 12 victory, 2-1 in 10 innings in a game that demanded the patience of Job and the grit of John Wayne.
Horned Frogs left fielder Dane Steinhagen scored from second when Kansas third baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk, in an attempt to start a 5-4-3 double play off Elliott Barzilli’s ground ball, sailed his throw to second wild into right field.
Right-hander Riley Ferrell (1-1), called on to end a Kansas threat in its half of the 10th, earned the victory.
No. 4 TCU (39-9, 15-5 Big 12) remained atop the conference standings, 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma State.
“It’s a dogfight every single game in this league,” Schlossnagle said. “We don’t even need fences in this ballpark when the wind is blowing out of the south like this. … You can’t score.
“I hated it for their third baseman to have it end that way.”
TCU, which has won 14 consecutive games at home, can sweep its fourth consecutive conference series with a victory Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m., and Senior Day ceremonies begin at 12:20 p.m.
Stephen Villines (3-4) took the loss in relief for Kansas (22-30, 7-13).
In a no-decision, Horned Frogs starter Tyler Alexander gave up a run on four hits and three walks while striking out two over seven innings. He left with the score tied and a runner on first in the eighth.
Trey Teakell, Brian Howard, Drew Gooch and Ferrell allowed only two base runners over the final three innings against a Kansas team that entered fourth in the league in hitting.
Alexander found trouble in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out.
Third baseman Derek Odell fielded but bobbled Justin Protacio’s grounder, leaving only one play at first, while Marcus Wheeler charged home for the game’s first run. Alexander induced a grounder to short to get out of the inning.
The Frogs got that run back in the fifth in a similar scene. TCU loaded the bases with one out. Connor Wanhanen lined out to shortstop Matt McLaughlin, who had a play at second trying to double up Cody Jones. Jones reached base three times Saturday, making the 20th consecutive game he has been on base.
The throw was dropped by Proctacio, the second baseman, allowing a sliding Crain to score from third.
Steinhagen started the rally in the 10th with a one-out walk, followed by Nolan Brown’s single to set up Barzilli’s at-bat.
Winning a close game is important for a team expected to see more as the stakes are raised in the coming weeks, Brown said.
“It’s very important,” said Brown, who also made a fully extended diving catch in foul territory in the seventh. “We’re trying to get to our best going into the conference tournament and winning as many games as we can.”