TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said last weekend that his team would eventually have to win a game with their offense instead of its pitching.
On Sunday, that day finally came and the Frogs answered the challenge.
After falling behind 3-0 and 7-4 in early innings, the TCU baseball team blew out Kansas State in a 21-7 slugfest at Lupton Field that only lasted seven innings due to the Big 12’s 10-run rule.
TCU had 18 hits on the day, a season-high, and every batter for the Frogs crossed home plate at least once. The Frogs also batted around the order in three separate innings.
Schlossnagle said that although his team’s pitching staff normally carried the Frogs to victories, he knew his batters could rise to a challenge.
“It’s awesome to pitch poorly and play defense poorly for half a game and still win the game,” Schlossnagle said. “Just a great offensive day.”
The win was the 12th in a row for TCU (34-13) and the 19th of their last 20 games.
It also moved them into a tie for the Big 12 lead with Oklahoma State, as both teams have identical 13-5 records in conference play.
Schlossnagle said that his players were aware of the importance of the win, but he also stressed his team was not looking too far ahead.
“You can’t hide things from guys these days. They know what’s going on in the league,” Schlossnagle said.
“We know that we’re in a league that’s strong enough to where if we win the games we’re supposed to win, we’ll have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.”
The Frogs fell behind in the top of the second inning after a scoreless first. KSU third baseman RJ Santigate drew a leadoff walk from TCU starter Jordan Kipper, and two singles from Tyler Stover and Mitch Meyer loaded the bases for the Wildcats.
Carter Yagi’s sacrifice fly scored Santigate, and after Ross Kivett loaded the bases again with a walk, Shane Conlon brought Stover and Meyer home with a base knock to give Kansas State a 3-0 lead .
Garrett Crain and Jerrick Suiter then each reached base on one-out singles, which allowed Dylan Fitzgerald to hit a double and bring in Crain to score.
Fitzgerald’s double was part of a tremendous day. The right fielder went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and four runs.
“Lately I’ve been seeing the ball really well, and have been really confident and relaxed,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s very easy when your nerves are calmed down at the plate.”
The Frogs weren’t done in the inning, however, as a KSU error with two outs allowed Kyle Bacak to reach base and scored Suiter. After Cody Jones walked to load the bases, Derek Odell singled to left to bring in Fitzgerald and Bacak.
The Frogs ended the inning with a 4-3 lead.
The lead would disappear quickly, however, as Kansas State got to relief pitcher Alex Young in the top of the third inning. Three walks and an error allowed Santigate to trot home and tie the game on an Alex Bee walk, and a passed ball gave the Wildcats the lead at 5-4.
They would add on to their lead after an error allowed Bee and Yagi to score and put the Frogs down 7-4.
After four scoreless half-innings, the bottom of the fifth saw the Frogs make their charge.
Boomer White singled to right to lead off the inning, one of his three hits on the day, and Kevin Cron followed him with a single of his own. Kansas State brought in Jared Moore to relieve starter Jake Matthys, but TCU got to Moore quickly.
A throwing error by Santigate allowed Crain to reach on a bunt, after which Fitzgerald singled to right and brought in White.
Keaton Jones hit a grounder to shortstop Austin Fisher that the KSU defender couldn’t handle, and all runners advanced, including Cron, who scored to make it a 7-6 game.
Bacak singled to right to bring in Crain and Fitzgerald, and after a Cody Jones walk and a Derek Odell strikeout, TCU blew the game open.
White, batting for the second time in the inning, doubled down the left field line to score Bacak and both Joneses. The Frogs ended the fifth inning with an 11-7 lead.
“It’s nice to know that the offense can carry us when we need it,” White said. “We didn’t start off hot with bats, but these last fifteen games, there’s been a couple of innings where we’re always going to come through and get something going.”
Trey Teakell, who replaced Young on the mound in the top of the fifth, held the Wildcats scoreless in the sixth, and the Frogs continued their offensive onslaught with a 10-run bottom of the sixth.
TCU’s 21 runs were the most in a single since the Frogs scored 28 against Dayton in 2012.
Teakell retired the side in the top of the seventh, and the umpires called the game, much to the delight of the home crowd, who were sweltering in the heat.
The Frogs will next take on the Oklahoma Sooners in a three game series to be played this weekend at Lupton Field in Fort Worth.