The Horned Frogs live to fight another day. Well, later today.
TCU, facing elimination from the regional tournament, defeated Stony Brook 8-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Frogs will face North Carolina State on Sunday at 7:35 p.m. after suffering a tough loss to the Wolfpack on Saturday night.
TCU quickly got to Stony Brook starting pitcher Teddy Rodliff. The side-arming lefty lasted just 1 1/3 innings in his first career start, as the Frogs tagged him for two runs on four hits. The Frogs tallied 13 hits in the game.
The young guys continued to get it done for the Frogs. Freshman catcher Evan Skoug provided the exclamation mark in the win: a 2-out, 3-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Frogs a 4-run lead. Skoug and fellow freshman Connor Wanhanen combined for five hits and five RBIs in the victory.
“I think he tried to sneak a fastball by [Skoug],” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “Good to see that happen for him.”
Sophomore Brian Howard, making his fourth start of the year for the Frogs, gave up three runs on two hits over 4 1/3 innings before leaving the game with numbness in his fingers and forearm. Schlossnagle said Howard has been battling the issue for a couple of weeks, and it won’t keep him from pitching again this season.
Junior Preston Guillory came in and threw 3.2 innings of 1-hit relief to keep the Frogs in the game.
“I was impressed with Guillory calming the storm in the middle innings,” Schlossnagle said.
Schlossnagle said after Saturday’s loss that sophomore Tyler Alexander would start for the Frogs Sunday afternoon, but he opted to go with Howard against Stony Brook. Schlossnagle now has Alexander and junior Alex Young available for North Carolina State on Sunday night, as well as relievers Trey Teakell and Riley Ferrell.
“I felt like the best chance for us to win this tournament was to do it without using Alexander or Young,” Schlossnagle said. “[Howard] gave us enough where we could mix and match without burning Teakell or Ferrell.”
The Frogs will have to beat NC State two times in a row to make it out of the regional tournament.
“This has been the most resilient, most low-maintenance team I’ve ever coached,” Schlossnagle said.
“On to the next challenge,” he said.
TCU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead using the stolen base, a weapon they failed to utilize against North Carolina State on Saturday. Center fielder Cody Jones led off the inning with a bouncer up the middle and stole second later in the inning. Wanhanen followed the stolen base with an RBI single to left field to score Jones and notch his first hit of the regional.
The Frogs made it 2-0 in the second after right fielder Nolan Brown led off the frame with a double. Brown moved to third on a Keaton Jones liner to center and scored on an RBI single from third baseman Derek Odell. An errant throw by Stony Brook third baseman Bobby Honeyman on a Garrett Crain bunt attempt spelled the end of the day for Stony Brook starting pitcher Teddy Rodliff.
Miscommunication would cost the Frogs a run in the bottom of the third. With two outs and a runner on third, Stony Brook center fielder Toby Handley lined a ball to right center. Cody Jones and Brown both got to the ball, but both fielders moved back to let the other make the catch. The ball hit the ground and got by for an RBI double to pull the Seawolves within one, 2-1.
Skoug gave the Frogs the big hit and the momentum they had been looking for. With two out and runners on second and third, Skoug lined his seventh home run of the year into the Stony Brook bullpen to extend the Frogs’ lead to 5-1.
Two walks issued by Howard ended his afternoon with one out in the fifth. Reliever Drew Gooch came in and didn’t have much better luck, walking the only batter he faced on four pitches. With the bases loaded, Guillory came in and gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced. The Seawolves scored another when the Frogs couldn’t turn a soft grounder to second into a double play. Guillory got Stony Brook’s Rob Chavarria to strike out swinging to escape the frame with a 2-run lead, 5-3.
With one out, Skoug launched what looked to be his second homer of the day to straightaway center field. He would settle for a double as the ball bounced off the top of the wall. With two outs and Skoug still on second, Brown lined his third hit of the day to score Skoug and extend the Frogs’ lead to 6-3. Brown’s 3-for-5 day at the plate gave him six hits in 11 at-bats in the regional.
The Frogs didn’t settle for a 3-run lead. Odell led off the inning with a double off the right field wall and advanced to third on a 1-out single from Cody Jones. First baseman Jeremie Fagnan followed with a tapper in front of home plate to score Odell. With two outs and Cody Jones on third, Wanhanen found a hole on the right side for his third hit and second RBI of the day. The hit gave the Frogs an 8-3 lead, which held the rest of the game.