It was a case of untimely free passes and errors for TCU in the series opener with Baylor on Friday night at Lupton Stadium.
Mix that with some clutch hitting by the Bears and the result was a 6-3 victory for Baylor, which dropped the Horned Frogs to 23-17 on the year and 6-7 in Big 12 play.
“More of the same,” said TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. “We had more hits than they did, but made five errors. Free bases, you can’t do that against any team and definitely can’t do it against a good team.”
TCU’s ace Nick Lodolo ran into trouble against Baylor (28-12, 10-5 Big 12) from the start.
After a one-out walk to Richard Cunningham, Lodolo hit Davis Wendzel with a pitch. Keller High grad Shea Langeliers then lined a sharp single to right scoring Cunningham to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Lodolo got out of trouble with a fly out to right and an unassisted grounder to first..
TCU threatened against Fort Worth native Paul Dickens in the bottom of the first.
Hunter Wolfe doubled past third base and down the left field line, but was stranded there. After a one-out walk to Jake Guenther, Dickens induced a pop out to second and struck out Johnny Rizer swinging to end the threat.
In the top of the third, Cunningham was hit by a Lodolo pitch and Wendzel walked to lead off the inning.
Langeliers then hit a hard chopper to short that could have turned into a double play, but the ball was booted into right field to score Cunningham for a 2-0 Baylor lead.
Baylor’s Andy Thomas then hit a one hopper back to the mound and Lodolo got Wendzel in a rundown off of third base. But Wendzel ran into Lodolo, on a controversial play, and was awarded home plate on an interference call.
Lodolo got the next three batters in order, including a sacrifice bunt by Cole Haring to put runners on second and third, but Baylor led 3-0.
“He didn’t have anybody helping him, but he’s the one that put the guys on base,” said Schlossnagle of Lodolo. “Nick has to be better than that on Friday night in this league.”
TCU got on the board in the bottom of the 4th when Austin Henry ripped a Dickens pitch into the TCU bullpen in left field to open the inning and cut the lead to 3-1. Dickens regrouped, however, striking out the side.
Henry’s fifth homer of the year was the Horned Frog’s 39th of the season, tying TCU’s total for all of last year with 13 regular season games to go plus the Big 12 Tournament.
The Frogs chased Dickens in the fifth.
A walk by Hunter Wolfe, a double to left by Josh Watson, and a Guenther hit by pitch loaded the bases with none out.
TCU catcher Alex Isola then lined a single to left scoring Wolfe to cut the lead to 4-2. Henry followed with a one-out sacrifice fly to center, scoring Watson, and the Baylor lead was 4-3.
Logan Freeman relieved Dickens for the Bears and reloaded the bases after walking Andrew Keefer, but got Conner Shepherd on strikes after checking his swing on an 0-2 pitch and getting called out by the third base umpire.
The Frogs loaded the bases once again with two out in the sixth on walks to Wolfe and Isola, sandwiched around a sharp single to center by Guenther. But for the second time in as many innings Baylor got out of the jam with a strikeout swinging, this time Freeman fanning Rizer.
Baylor added two runs in the eighth with help from the Frog’s fourth error.
A one-out single to center by pinch hitter Davion Downey was followed by a bloop single to right by Bear’s first baseman Chase Wehsener. The ball was booted in right field allowing Downey and Wehsener to advance to third and second.
A good play on a hard grounder to TCU’s Shepherd at third got the second out, but Frog killer Cunningham ripped a single to right to give Baylor a 6-3 lead.
Cunningham reached base five times on the night with two singles, a walk, and was hit twice by TCU pitchers.
TCU left 15 runners on base and was 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
The Frogs have now committed errors in 9 of the last 10 games, but 5 is a season high for the Frogs. TCU had four errors against Texas on March 24.
“We’re never out of the fight, but we put ourselves in it,” said Schlossnagle. “Whether it be free bases on the mound or free bases in the field, that’s just what it is. We’ll get back after them tomorrow.”
The three-game series resumes at 3 p.m. on Saturday with Sunday’s matchup beginning at 1 p.m.