The flags at Lupton Stadium flew at half-staff on Friday night and the players, coaches and umpires wore red wristbands to honor the victims of the explosion in West, Texas as TCU fell to Baylor 3-2 in the opener of a three game series.
A moment of silence preceded the national anthem to pay tribute to those injured or killed in the fertilizer plant explosion that took place on Wednesday, less than 20 miles from Baylor’s campus.
Bears pinch hitter Mitch Price blasted a solo home run off reliever Alex Young in the top of the ninth to score the winning run. The loss drops the Horned Frogs to 17-21 and 5-8 in Big 12 play.
“They put that guy in there obviously to do what he did,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnangle said. “And then Alex got behind in the count and gave him a fastball to hit.”
Jerrick Suiter, who had been taken out of the lineup earlier this season due to a lack of hitting, came in as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Suiter launched a ball deep to center field, but the ball was caught at the warning track to end the game.
“He took a great swing,” Schlossnagle said. “Probably the best swing of the season, he just hit it to the wrong part of the park.”
“I thought it had a chance off the bat,” Suiter said of the swing. “It just didn’t carry as much as I wanted it to.”
TCU had the bases loaded in the second, but could not capitalize as Keaton Jones grounded into a double play to end the inning. The lack of offensive production has been a constant theme for the Frogs this season, making things more difficult for the pitching staff, including sophomore Preston Morrison.
Morrison gave up two runs in eight innings in a no-decision on Friday. Morrison forfeited a run after three straight hits to start the game, but the right-hander recovered quickly. He retired the next three batters with runners on second and third to prevent further damage.
Jantzen Witte tied the game at 1-1 in the third with a base hit up the middle that brought Kyle Bacak across the plate. The hit gave Witte 24 RBI’s on the season, which leads the team. Paul Hendrix then gave the Frogs a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning on a double to deep right field that landed just out of the diving reach of Baylor’s Nathan Orf.
Morrison had few problems after the first until Baylor loaded the bases in the eighth. Baylor scored on an infield hit with two outs to tie the game at 2-2. Morrison forced a foul out to escape the inning. At one point the sophomore sat down 14 straight batters. The pitcher gave up six hits, three walks and struck out seven.
Brandon Finnegan will take the mound for the Frogs on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
“He’s got to throw strikes,” Schlossnagle said of Finnegan, who is winless on the season. “He’s got to give us a chance to get the lead. He’s got to be good early. He just has to be the guy he’s capable of being.”