Baseball parks in the desert have treated TCU athletics well of late.
The football team knocked off Cal in the Cheez-It Bowl in late December at Phoenix’s Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then TCU’s baseball team upset top-ranked Vanderbilt on Sunday at Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the D-backs’ spring training home.
The baseball team had an impressive victory, rolling to a 10-2 victory over the Commodores. The Frogs went 2-1 in the MLB4 Tournament, falling to Cal State Fullerton on Friday and beating Virginia on Saturday.
TCU will play its home opener against Abilene Christian on Tuesday night. The Frogs will do so with momentum.
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TCU jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on Vanderbilt in the first inning on an RBI double by Josh Watson, an RBI groundout by Jake Guenther and an RBI single by Alex Isola.
Vanderbilt scored one run in the top of the second, but TCU responded with two runs in the bottom half of the second. Commodores prized freshman right-hander Kumar Rocker didn’t make it out of the second inning.
Rocker went to Vanderbilt as one of the top-rated pitchers in the country, but TCU made his college debut forgettable.
The Frogs put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth that featured a two-run double by Austin Henry and an RBI single by Guenther.
Henry and Guenther each finished with three RBIs.
Left-hander Brandon Williamson made his TCU debut, allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. Junior right-hander Jake Eissler got the win, allowing one run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings.
TCU finished the weekend by scoring nine and 10 runs against Virginia and Vanderbilt, respectively. The Frogs were shutout in the opener against Cal State Fullerton despite getting nine hits on the day.
Kendall Rogers, a respected college baseball voice for D1Baseball.com, came away impressed with the Frogs after Sunday’s showing.
“Showed a mature offensive approach the last two days,” Rogers wrote on his Twitter handle. “That has to make [TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle] and hitting coach Bill Mosiello very happy. Think this will be a different year for the Frogs.”
Sunday’s win was career win No. 650 for Schlossnagle.
Schlossnagle made it clear last week, though, that the opening tournament would not dictate how the season would go for the Frogs. It simply would serve as a barometer of where the team is and what they must improve upon to return to the College World Series after snapping a streak of four consecutive trips to Omaha last season.
“We’ll find out real quick what kind of club we have and the areas that we need to improve on,” Schlossnagle told the Star-Telegram going into the tournament last week. “That’s why we try to play a good schedule early is to expose ourselves, I guess you could call it.
“It doesn’t mean if the weekend goes great, we’re going to have a great season. Or if it doesn’t go the way we want, we’re going to have a bad season.”
Finally, for what it’s worth, it seems that 10 is the magic number for TCU in Arizona. The football team won the Cheez-It Bowl with a 10-7 overtime victory, and the baseball team had a 10-2 win Sunday.