Despite rough start and eerie similarities, TCU baseball shouldn't panic ... yet

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle wins 700th career game

TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle won his 700th game Tuesday night. It's his 623rd win since becoming coach at TCU before the 2004 season.
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TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle won his 700th game Tuesday night. It's his 623rd win since becoming coach at TCU before the 2004 season.

TCU baseball has been here before — but it's been a while.

The Horned Frogs (14-11, 3-3 Big 12) have lost four in a row with a three-game series against Oklahoma beginning Friday at Lupton Stadium.

The No. 19 Sooners (21-10, 6-0) are off to a fast start in conference, while TCU has two losing streaks of at least three games in 2018, something the Frogs hadn't done even once since 2014.

The 2014 Frogs were 15-11 and 2-4 in the Big 12 before winning 20 of their next 21 and eventually reaching the College World Series.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said the Horned Frogs pitching staff stepped up this weekend to limit Kansas State to four runs in three games, including their first shutout on Sunday.

That team had a dominating rotation of Preston Morrison, Brandon Finnegan, Tyler Alexander and Jordan Kipper, and put it together for the final two months. But the 2014 team never lost four straight.

In fact, the last time the Frogs lost four in a row was March 2013.

That was the lone season TCU didn't earn a postseason berth under coach Jim Schlossnagle. The Frogs lost their first six games in '13 and then were swept by the Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma, and lost a one-run game against DBU.

There are some eerie similarities to the current four-game losing streak, which includes a 3-2 loss at DBU Tuesday. Two of those losses in Norman were in extra innings.

TCU allowed 28 runs in a three-game sweep last weekend by Oklahoma State, including a loss in 11 innings and another in the bottom of the ninth. The starters allowed 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings against the Cowboys. The bullpen didn't fare any better, allowing 13 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings. Against DBU, TCU walked 10 batters.

"Of all of the unknowns on this team, one known was the starting pitching," said Schlossnagle, whose Frogs were 2-2 a year ago against the Sooners. "So far we haven't really had the elite starting pitching that TCU has been known for. The good news is, they do have a track record."

The offense, which at times looked uninspired against Kansas State, collected 36 hits against OSU but combined to leave 37 runners on base.

"We didn’t get the big hit necessarily that blew games open," Schlossnagle said. "We’ve found ways to lose games."

This rough stretch, Schlossnagle hopes, is just part of a maturation process for a young team that is relying on a few veterans to turn it around.

"From the outside looking in, it looks fun. When you’re inside of it, you have to be part of making it happen," he said. "They're recognizing how tough it is and the weight of responsibility that goes on guys. That’s what separates the great ones."

It's far from time to panic, however. Except for the Sooners at 6-0, no team in the Big 12 has separated itself from the pack.

And the Frogs can thicken the race with a good showing this weekend. The team's veterans, including Luken Baker and Josh Watson, have done a good job of relaying a sense of urgency to their younger teammates. There are no clubhouse issues or chemistry problems, Schlossnagle said.

"There's none of that. It’s all baseball related. Which is usually something we can do something about," he said. "I still feel good about their ability level. We're only going to go as far as they take us, period."

TCU starting pitcher Sean Wymer earned his first win of the season after holding Kansas State scoreless over 7 2/3 innings in Sunday's 6-0 win.

TCU vs. Oklahoma

(at Lupton Stadium)

Game 1: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Game 2: 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

Game 3: 3 p.m. Sunday (FSSW)

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