TCU baseball fine-tuning for 2019 season
TCU gave up two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday, allowing Kansas to salvage the final game of the three-game series with a 3-1 win over the Horned Frogs in front of 5,050 at Lupton Stadium.
Kansas (28-24, 9-12 Big 12) opened the ninth with a walk to third baseman Dylan Ditzenberger off TCU starting pitcher Brandon Williamson, who turned in the Frogs’ third consecutive strong outing of the weekend.
Cal Coughlin relieved Williamson and things just got weird for TCU.
Coughlin sawed off Skyler Messinger, who led the Jayhawks by going 3 for 4, but the ball was blooped just over the head of third baseman Conner Shepherd for a hit.
With runners on first and second, Blake Shinkle then hit a hard bouncer to third that hopped over Shepherd’s glove for an error, scoring Ditzenberger for a 2-1 Kansas lead.
After a strikeout by Coughlin, KU’s Jack Wagner dribbled a slow roller to third and was safe after the ball and runner arrived at first at the same time. Wagner ran into TCU first baseman Jake Guenther’s glove and the ball was dropped. allowing Messinger to score.
“I thought Brandon Williamson was amazing, incredible,” said TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle. “I thought Cal was the best he’s been all season. He gets a jam job and gets ground balls that he’s in the game to get and he never cashed in.”
Williamson was stellar for TCU (28-21, 10-11), throwing eight innings, plus one batter in the ninth. The junior allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits with three walks, a hit batter, and 11 strikeouts.
“I felt good today,” said Williamson, who threw 122 pitches, the most by any Horned Frog starter this season. “I came out a little slow, but as the game went on I got a lot more comfortable on the mound.
“The turning point in the game for me was when I found my slider. It was decent early in the game, but in about the fourth or fifth inning I really found it and wasn’t afraid to throw it in any count.”
Despite the disappointing ninth inning, Schlossnagle has been pleased with the Horned Frogs’ play in the past two weeks since previously losing eight of nine games.
“We had really good starting pitching, we pitched well out of the bullpen, we got timely hits and we showed some character,” said Schlossnagle, whose team has won five of seven. “I hate losing more than anybody else, but I feel good about that.”
Kansas led 1-0 until the fourth when Johnny Rizer hit a towering solo home run to deep right field. It was Rizer’s eighth long ball, tying him with Guenther for the team lead.
Rizer then saved a run for the Frogs in the seventh.
A two-out double by Jayhawks right fielder Casey Burnham was followed by a sharp single to center by Wagner. Burnham tried to score on the play, but a strong throw from Rizer nailed Burnham at the plate.
The Horned Frogs final regular-season home game will be on Tuesday against Lamar. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
TCU travels to Lubbock to end the Big 12 regular season with games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have won 11 of their past 12 games.
Correction: In Sunday’s print edition, Andrew Keefer was given credit for the walk-off home run on Friday in Saturday’s game story. While Keefer did homer in the game, Conner Shepherd had the game-winning walk-off HR on Friday.