TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle has tried sending every message in the book to his team.
He’s ripped them publicly. He’s found positives in losses. He’s pointed to the big picture and how every goal is still within reach. Negative reinforcement hasn’t seemed to work. Neither has positive reinforcement.
TCU simply can’t get on track of late. The Frogs lost for the fifth time in the last six games on Tuesday afternoon, as Dallas Baptist rolled to a 9-3 victory at Lupton Stadium.
“I don’t know,” Schlossnagle said, shaking his head. “I’ve tried all the messages.”
But, for as bad as things are going for TCU (23-16, 6-6 Big 12), it is still in the hunt for a conference championship and an NCAA Tournament berth. It just doesn’t feel that way after Dallas Baptist (28-12) completed a two-game season sweep of TCU by a combined score of 20-9.
“As ugly as we’ve played, we still have things in front of us,” Schlossnagle said. “Now the time is here. If you go win series the rest of the way in the Big 12, you still put yourself in that situation. But it’s not about that. They’ve heard that a million times.
“You’ve got to play good baseball and ultimately that’s on me. I haven’t coached this team any different and it seems like the things we’re the worst at are the things that we work at the most and the things we talk about the most. The more we do it, the worse we get. I’ve never had a team that doesn’t get an out on a bunt.”
Yes, TCU couldn’t get out of its own way Tuesday as DBU scored five unearned runs.
The Frogs botched a bunt down the third-base line that allowed two unearned runs to score in the fifth inning, and then had another blunder on a bunt in the seventh inning.
TCU had just pulled to within 5-3 in the sixth inning before the seventh-inning meltdown.
Frogs reliever Matt Rudis retired the first two batters he faced before issuing consecutive walks. TCU turned to lefty Augie Mihlbauer and DBU’s Augie Isaacson laid down a bunt.
TCU catcher Alex Isola played the bunt perfectly and fired to first, but first baseman Jake Guenther dropped the ball.
DBU capitalized on that two-out error with a two-run single by Andres Sosa and a one-run double by Herbert Iser. TCU didn’t get out of the inning until its sixth pitcher of the game, right-hander Dalton Brown, induced an inning-ending groundout.
In the end, a manageable 5-3 deficit turned into an 8-3 deficit and TCU didn’t threaten afterward. DBU extended its lead with a single run in the ninth.
“That’s what our season has been,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s not getting outs on bunts. It’s getting a comebacker and throwing it into center field. These are all the things we’ve prided ourselves on for 16 years … I don’t know.
“I don’t want to bang on the players. It’s ultimately on us. It’s on me. We’ve got to figure something out.”
But, as Schlossnagle said, the season is far from lost. The Frogs have four more Big 12 series, starting this weekend against Baylor, and can get things turned around.
The hope is that senior right-hander Jared Janczak continues to make progress. He allowed one run over three innings on Tuesday, throwing 49 pitches.
The offense remains potent despite the Nos. 2-6 hitters combining to go 2-for-18 on Tuesday.
“As ugly as baseball is, it can be as beautiful just as quickly,” Schlossnagle said. “Win four series and be a conference champion. But you’ve got to play good baseball to do it. You can’t just sit here and talk about it.”
The TCU-Baylor series gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Junior left-hander Nick Lodolo will start for the Frogs on Friday followed by right-hander Charles King for the 3 p.m. game Saturday and left-hander Brandon Williamson for the 1 p.m. game Sunday.