Frogs open midweek series with 11-0 win against Broncs
University of Texas-Pan American pitcher Clayton Haltom walked back to the visitors' dugout in the bottom of the sixth to the tune of Daniel Powter's "Bad Day." He'd just walked his third batter in a row, pushing a run across in the process.
But it's not fair to single out Haltom. The Frogs made Tuesday night a bad one for the entire Pan American team—to the tune of an 11-0 victory.
TCU (14-10, 1-2 Big 12) showed up looking to put a disappointing weekend behind them. The Frogs dropped two out of three games to Texas Tech in their first conference series.
The Frogs did their damage in three separate innings. They scored two runs in the second, five in the fifth and four in the sixth. Eight walks issued in those innings by Pan American pitchers helped their cause.
Junior pitcher Jordan Kipper made his fifth start of the season for the Frogs. Kipper struggled to find the strike zone early in the first inning, walking two of the first three batters he faced. But he came back to strike out the 4 and 5-hole hitters swinging to end the frame.
"Once he made an adjustment, he was just missing low, I thought he looked really good," TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "I thought he could've had success against a lot of teams tonight."
TCU took a 2-0 lead in the second and never looked back.
Junior third-baseman Derek Odell led off by drawing a walk and advancing to second on a passed ball with sophomore left-fielder Boomer White at the plate. White then singled to left, moving junior designated hitter Kevin Cron to third and extending his career-high hitting streak to 15 games.
Junior first-baseman Jeremie Fagnan followed with a sharp groundball down the first-baseline. UTPA first-baseman Victor Garcia dove for the ball, but it popped out of his glove and got away from him. Odell scored, and White advanced to second.
With no outs, White advanced to third on an errant pick-off throw from Pan American catcher Blake Thomas. He then scored on a squeeze bunt from shortstop Keaton Jones.
Kipper found himself in a 2-on, 1-out jam in the fifth, but he struck out Alex Howe swinging and got Brian Ramirez to fly-out to escape the threat.
That would be the end of Kipper's night. The Arizona-native allowed only four hits and fanned seven over his five shut-out innings.
Senior right-fielder Dylan Fitzgerald blew the game open in the bottom half of the inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Fitzgerald roped the first pitch he saw down the first-baseline and into the right field corner for a bases-clearing triple.
"It was actually a ball, it's funny," Fitzgerald said. "I was just looking for a fastball. Thankfully I got my bat to the ball and it just barely stayed in the line."
With two outs and Fitzgerald still on third, White grounded a ball off UTPA pitcher Matthew Harrell's leg. White was credited his second hit of the night, scoring Fitzgerald in the process.
In the next at-bat, White immediately moved to second on a passed ball. Fagnan then lined a double to right to score White and widen TCU's lead to 7-0.
Sophomore left-hander Alex Young came on to pitch the sixth and only needed 10 pitches to record three outs, striking out two in the process.
The Frogs batted around in the bottom half of the inning to tack on four more runs. Fitzgerald again found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and no outs.
This time, he drew a four-pitch walk from Haltom for his fourth RBI of the night.
Cron followed with an RBI groundout off new UTPA pitcher Tanner Dickerson. Then, with one out and Frogs in scoring position, Odell smacked a grounder up the middle to score both runners to make the deficit 11.
TCU relief pitcher Travis Evans found himself in a 1-out jam in the eighth after giving up a walk and a single, but fly-outs from the next two batters ended the threat.
After a scoreless TCU half of the eighth, sophomore Riley Ferrell closed out a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts and a groundout.
"That's as good as Ferrell has been this year," Schlossnagle said.
It was reassuring for the Frogs to see the bats come to life after only scoring four total runs in their last two games. Fitzgerald actually attributed the offensive outburst to the pitching staff.
"It's awesome when our pitcher's throwing strikes and our time on defense is really short, he makes us relax at the plate," Fitzgerald said. "When the pitcher's throwing strikes, we get in a groove and it's just a fun game to play."
While it was a good day for the Frogs all around, Schlossnagle said the issue isn't whether or not they can win one game.
"We've shown the ability to play really well for one game," Schlossnagle said. "We need to do it for an extended period of time. That's a challenge."
TCU will try to string together some good days heading into this weekend's road series against Oklahoma State. A good initial sign: the Frogs have multiple players coming back from injuries.
"We're going into this weekend as healthy as we've been in a couple of weeks," Schlossnagle said.
Wednesday's game against UTPA was cancelled. TCU will next take on Oklahoma State on Friday in Stillwater, Okla. The game is set for 6:30 p.m.