Riding a 10-game win streak and heading into the team’s toughest series yet, No. 10 TCU Baseball had something to prove this weekend against No. 8 Texas Tech.
The Frogs needed to show they belong among the Big 12’s best at the top of the conference standings, despite having only seen action against Baylor and Oklahoma, two of the league’s worst.
After a hard-fought series, the Frogs headed back to Fort Worth with a 2-1 series loss, but the weekend was far from a complete loss for TCU.
Behind a Friday starter that has been lights-out, consistent offense from a plethora of players and newfound leadership from upperclassmen like Hunter Wolfe, the Frogs showed this weekend that they can and will continue to compete with the best that the nation has to offer.
A strong first inning and another stellar outing by starter Russell Smith propelled TCU to its 11th-straight win on Friday night as the Frogs toppled the Red Raiders 7-3 to take game one of the series.
First-year Brayden Taylor’s streak of four-straight games with a home run came to an end, but center fielder Phillip Sikes picked up the slack, hitting his third of the year in the first inning.
The junior finished 2-for-4 on the day with two RBIs and a run scored, leading the Frogs offensively.
Against one of the nation’s hardest-hitting offenses, Smith was about as good as you can be, giving up just five hits and three runs while striking out 12 batters in seven innings pitched (tied for his career-high).
Smart at-bats for TCU led to three walks in the top of the first, giving the Frogs runners in position to do serious early damage. With two outs, second baseman Gray Rodgers smacked the first triple of his career to put TCU up 4-0.
Moments later, Sikes hit a blast to right-center field to extend the Frogs’ lead to six and give them all the offense they would need to secure the win.
From there, Texas Tech was able to put together a few runs, but a Rodgers sacrifice fly in the fifth gave TCU enough insurance for relievers River Ridings and Haylen Green to lock up the Red Raiders the rest of the way.
The 11-game win streak was the longest for the Frogs since 2017.
A 4th-inning grand slam from designated hitter Hunter Wolfe was not enough for TCU on Saturday as the Frogs dropped their closest conference matchup of the season 6-5 to Texas Tech on a 10th-inning walk-off home run.
Starter Austin Krob was unable to carry momentum from his dominant performance last Saturday, giving up four hits and four runs over just 3.2 innings pitched.
After the Red Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a lead-off triple and a groundout, the Frogs bounced back with a strong fourth to pick up where they left off the night before.
TCU loaded the bases after three strong at-bats before Wolfe sent the first pitch he saw to orbit for his 5th homer of the season to make it 4-1.
The lead was short-lived for the Frogs, though, as the Red Raiders were able to put five-straight batters on base with two outs to match TCU’s four-run 4th inning and take a 5-4 lead.
Once the Frogs then tied the game at 5 in the 5th, the teams fell into a defensive battle, as neither could score the winning run by the end of the 9th inning.
TCU’s stale offense carried into the 10th inning as well, and Texas Tech shortstop Cal Conley led off the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to even the series at one game apiece and snap the Frogs’ win streak.
TCU is now 0-3 in extra-inning games this season.
Despite getting three home runs from unlikely sources, TCU was unable to keep up with Texas Tech’s massive scoring effort on Sunday, falling in a 17-7 run rule to the Red Raiders to drop the weekend series 2-1.
Elijah Nunez and Austin Henry hit their first home runs of the season, while Gray Rodgers hit just his second, but the Frogs left six men on base and were unable to truly capitalize on their 11 hits in the game.
Each time TCU attempted to close the gap on Texas Tech, the Red Raiders responded, as their five home runs in the game highlighted an impressive offensive performance.
After Nunez made it 3-1 with his solo shot in the third, Texas Tech scored four runs on a three-run homer and a double in the bottom of the inning to extend the deficit to six.
An RBI single from Wolfe and Rodgers’ three-run blast cut the Red Raiders’ lead to three again in the 5th, but Texas Tech then all but put the nails in the coffin for TCU with a nine-run 6th inning that saw 12 batters go the plate and two home runs from the second baseman Jace Jung alone.
Jung, a true first-year from San Antonio, is now tied for the lead nationally with 15 home runs in the year.
Henry’s homer in the seventh brought the Frogs within 10, but they were unable to get closer than that, meaning the game ended in a run rule.
Starter Johnny Ray had been unable to find any rhythm in the game, giving up six runs on three hits in just 2.1 innings pitched. Six different pitchers saw the mound for TCU in the just seven innings played.
TCU finally returns home this week, as the team looks to get back on track in a matchup with Tarleton State on Tuesday. The first pitch for the contest, which starts an eight-game home stand for the Frogs, is at 6:30 p.m.