TCU’s offense used 18 hits, 5 of them by Austen Wade, to finish off a weekend that saw them score 37 runs on 35 hits, 22 walks and 8 hit by pitches. The Frogs (25-5) had a .500 on base percentage for the weekend against a Murray State (15-15) pitching staff that has struggled all season to the tune of a 6.77 ERA. Eight of nine batters got hits for the Frogs in just six innings on Sunday, with five players recording multi-hit games.
When asked if hitting can be contagious, Wade said, “With this lineup, for sure. You see one guy get a hit and he comes back to the dugout saying ‘this is what it looks like,’ you feel really confident going up to the plate,” he said. “I think it is contagious.”
Brian Howard picked up his fifth win of his senior campaign and lowered his ERA to 5.05 as he gave up just two runs in five innings of work. Howard tallied a career-best 11 strikeouts, recording at least two punch outs in each inning. Despite the high strikeout total, Schlossnagle still believes Howard can be better.
“I think his best baseball is ahead of him,” Schlossnagle said. “He has pitched a lot of big games. When you start playing on the road in conference games, there is nobody I have more confidence in than Brian.”
Howard walked Murray State leadoff hitter Kipp Moore to start the game. He then set the next two batters down on strikes, but Moore advanced to third on a stolen base and a throwing error by catcher Zach Humphreys. The Racers took the lead on a two out single from Tyler Lawrence.
TCU quickly answered Murray State’s run with one of its own, as Wade led off with the first of his five hits on a double to right field. Evan Skoug stayed hot with an RBI single two batters later.
The Frogs put up their first of three crooked innings with a four spot in the second. TCU picked up five straight hits to open the frame, highlighted by a two run double from Mason Hesse and an RBI single by Cam Warner. After a strikeout and an intentional walk of Luken Baker, Josh Watson hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to make it 5-1.
The Horned Frogs lone scoreless inning of the afternoon came in the third before they tacked on a run in the fourth, making it a 6-1 game. Skoug singled to drive in Wade who had singled and advanced to third on an error.
Murray State scored a run in the top of the fifth on a double off of Howard, but TCU blew the game open in the bottom half. Another four run inning extended the lead to 10-2.
Nolan Brown started the bottom of the fifth with a single before stealing his 16th bag in 17 tries. After a single, walk and strikeout, Wade lined a run scoring single to center. With the bases loaded and a run in, Warner extended his team lead in RBI’s with his 33rd of the season on a base hit to center field. Skoug then struck out followed by a two run single for Baker.
Trey Morris came in to pitch the top of the sixth for the Frogs, working around a leadoff hit batter.
In TCU’s last at bat in the sixth, Hesse hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to drive in his third run. Wade came up for the fifth time with two in scoring position and he singled home both runners to continue his perfect day at the plate. His 5-5 day raised his average from .313 to .368. After an 0-4 night on Friday, Wade went 8-10 with 6 RBIs to finish the series.
“Friday, I felt like I hit some balls well,” Wade said. “Coach Mo [TCU hitting coach Bill Mosiello] and I talked after the game, and he said ‘things will happen, just stick with it; stay the course.’ You take that guys advice, things will end up working out for you. So that’s what I did.”
Cal Coughlin closed the game out in the seventh, allowing three hits but getting a double play and a strikeout to escape with a scoreless frame.
TCU heads to Dallas Baptist on Tuesday at 6:30, looking to extend its winning streak to 13 games. The Frogs defeated the Patriots 3-2 in 10 innings on March 7.