USC clobbers TCU pitching again, this time coming up with win

TCU’s Evan Skoug, left, high fives Zack Plunkett, who scored in the second inning on a single by Cam Warner.
TCU’s Evan Skoug, left, high fives Zack Plunkett, who scored in the second inning on a single by Cam Warner.

It finally caught up with No. 11 TCU on Sunday in a 16-6 loss to Southern California at Lupton Stadium.

The Horned Frogs (12-3) gave up 17 more hits against a veteran Trojans lineup after surrendering 18 hits but surviving for a 12-11 win in 10 innings Saturday.

We had three very poor starting pitching performances, but we won two games.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle

Sunday’s loss was also the fourth straight game that the opposition scored first against the Frogs. It also snapped TCU’s five-game winning streak.

“We had three very poor starting pitching performances, but we won two games,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “If you would have told me going into the three-game series that we weren’t going to have a starter get out of the fifth inning, I would have thought we’d get swept.”

Junior Rex Hill was the victim on Sunday, lasting four innings and giving up 10 hits and six earned runs.

TCU surrendered 15 hits in the first five innings Sunday, as relievers Devon Roedahl and Dalton Brown struggled through the Trojans’ big inning in the top of the fifth.

Already up 8-4, USC (7-7) sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth. Catcher Jeremy Martinez hit a two-run single through the left side to make it 14-4.

The Horned Frogs had made a habit of scratching back in these games, but the 10-run deficit was too much to come back from. Martinez went 3 for 6 against TCU. First baseman AJ Ramirez went 4 for 5 with two home runs and six RBIs.

The junior took Hill deep with a homer over the left-field wall in the top of the third and hit another to left-center off Durbin Feltman all the way to the netting that guards Lupton Stadium’s video board in the top of the eighth. Ramirez’s pair were the first two home runs of the year off TCU pitching.

TCU left fielder Josh Watson answered in the first at-bat of the bottom of the ninth when he turned on the first pitch for a solo shot to dead center.

But the run left TCU down 16-6, and the bottom of the order went quietly to end the game. Watson went 2 for 4 and Cam Warner and Evan Skoug drove in two apiece in the bottom of the second as the Horned Frogs rallied from an early 2-0 deficit.

With the bases loaded and one out, Warner drove in shortstop Ryan Merrill and catcher Zack Plunkett on a bouncing single through the middle. Skoug launched an 0-1 fastball off the left-field wall to plate Austen Wade and Warner for the Frogs’ 4-2 lead after two.

But Southern Cal came back with three in the top of the third and six more in the fifth to effectively end the game.

Skoug, the Frogs’ primary catcher, had five RBIs in the series and played first base Sunday, which moved Michael Landestoy back to the bench.

Landestoy got another pinch hit in the bottom of the eighth and went 5 for 8 with five RBIs against USC, playing first for Connor Wanhanen after the sophomore tweaked a hamstring stretching for a ball at first base in the first inning Friday.

“Michael’s a great teammate who’s earned his success,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s there when you need him.”

Schlossnagle said Wanhanen could have played Sunday if it were necessary. But he went with Skoug at first to give him a day off behind the plate without losing his bat, but also to make sure Wanhanen is 100 percent ready for Big 12 Conference play, which starts Friday at home against West Virginia.

Before West Virginia, though, comes one final nonconference tuneup against Rice in Houston on Tuesday when the Frogs will start freshman left-hander Dalton Horton (2-0). TCU beat Rice in an early season tournament at Minute Maid Park, 10-0 in seven innings.

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