Right-hander Justin Scharf threw a wild pitch that reached the backstop and allowed UT-Arlington's Preston Beck to score the game-winning run, as the TCU baseball team fell to the Mavericks 4-3 in extra innings Tuesday night at Clay Gould Ballpark in Arlington.
The loss was the Frogs' fourth in their last five games and dropped their record to 12-10 on the year. Scharf, who only recorded one out, was tagged with the loss.
TCU held a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the 10th inning after catcher Josh Elander hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top half inning. The Frogs' defense, which surrendered five errors on the night, couldn't help the TCU bullpen hold onto the lead.
With the bases loaded and UTA down to its last strike, pinch hitter Matt Shortall dribbled a slow ground ball down the third base line. TCU's Davy Wright couldn't field it cleanly, bobbling the ball and allowing UTA's Derek Miller to come home and tie the game at 3-3.
Defense cost the Frogs earlier in the game, too.
TCU led 2-1 with two outs in the eighth when second baseman Brett Johnson's throw to first base skipped across the dirt and let Miller score from third to tie the game.
TCU pitcher Kevin Allen would retire the next batter, but Johnson's error, TCU's third of the game at the time, handed the dormant UTA offense a free run, eventually sending the game into extra innings when both teams went scoreless in the next frame.
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said his team just has to get better and it starts with defense, especially in the infield. The Frogs had won nine games in a row before losing to Texas State last Tuesday and losing two out of three to New Mexico over the weekend, their first Mountain West series loss since 2009.
"We're just not very good right now," Schlossnagle said. "We played really for a long stretch and played well defensively. Obviously, there's a correlation in how we play infield defense and whether we win or lose."
The Frogs got a solid pitching performance from freshman Jerrick Suiter.
Suiter gave up a leadoff double and fell behind 1-0 in the first inning but calmed down, breezing through the next three innings before being pulled with two outs in the fifth inning. Suiter gave up four hits and struck out four in his first career start on the mound as a Frog. Suiter had started 11 games at designated hitter and in the field going into Tuesday night.
TCU got on the board in the sixth inning when Johnson poked a double down the left-field line, bringing in Jantzen Witte, who also reached on a double. Freshman Kevin Cron followed up Johnson's at-bat with an infield single to the shortstop. Johnson would score from second on an errant throw to first base.
Schlossnagle said Suiter's outing and Elander's clutch home run in the 10th were two of the few positives to take out of Tuesday night's loss. Schlossnagle said Elander is finally turning into the hitter he thought he'd be when the Round Rock native came to TCU in 2008.
"I thought Jerrick Suiter pitched really well," Schlossnagle said. "Josh Elander looks like the hitter that we signed. He hasn't swung the bat like that since he's been in college. He's hitting the ball harder in the air. So that's a really good sign."
Right-hander Preston Morrison, who relieved Suiter in the fifth, 2.1 scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up just one hit. Allen also pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless ball in relief.
Johnson led TCU with two RBI after going 2-for-3 at the plate. Jantzen Witte and Kevin Cron each had two hits for the Frogs.
UTA starter Zach Thompson gave up one earned run in 5.2 innings. Relief pitcher Michael Morales earned the win after going 2.2 innings and giving up one run.
TCU will be back in action Friday at home against UNLV. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.