In its first series of the season the TCU Horned Frogs did not come out on top, but did prove the team can hang with the Titans of college baseball.
The Horned Frogs took game two of the three game series against the No. 14 Cal State Fullerton Titans but lost games one and three.
Although attendance records were set during the weekend, the 16 series winning streak came to a close and the team will have to put the losses behind it as action continues tonight against Dallas Baptist University.
“We’re going to be ready,” junior first baseman Matt Vern said. “This series is over, and now we’ve just got to go out and win on Tuesday.”
Vern had a potent series against Cal State Fullerton driving in six runs and hit at a .417 clip.
During the upcoming contest with the Dallas Baptist Patriots, redshirt sophomore Paul Gerrish will face true sophomore Victor Black from DBU. Last season when TCU faced DBU, Black was pitching in relief during the 12-inning Horned Frogs’ victory. Black threw four 2/3 innings and racked up eight strikeouts against TCU last year.
The weekend series did have some ups and downs for the young Horned Frogs against the Titans, which cracked into the Baseball America Top-25 ranking after last weekend.
Despite 11 hits and no errors, the Horned Frogs were not able to overcome an early five-run deficit, losing 11-5 Friday night at Lupton Stadium.
The series hinged on timely hitting during all three games. Friday night, the difference between TCU and Cal State Fullerton was because of the Titan’s 10 two-out runs scored.
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle called the two-out RBIs the difference in the game that night, even though the Horned Frogs were solid in the field and racked up 11 hits on offense.
“We didn’t pitch very well with two outs, and they did a good job of hitting with two outs,” Schlossnagle said.
Solid pitching performances and timely hitting powered the Horned Frogs past Cal State-Fullerton on Saturday in Fort Worth to even the teams’ season-opening weekend series at one apiece.
In just his second career start, sophomore Steven Maxwell cruised through seven innings for the Frogs (1-1), giving up just two runs off four hits and setting a career-high with five strikeouts in the 4-2 win. Vern added two hits and scored two runs, one of them in the first after he knocked in a run on an RBI single and crossed the plate on a passed ball.
“The difference in the game was the way we pitched today versus the way we pitched yesterday,” Schlossnagle said. “We executed two things: we got some timely hits and (our guys) pitched lights out.”
The Horned Frogs used three pitchers to hold the Titans at bay, with sophomore Tyler Lockwood throwing a perfect eighth and junior closer Andrew Cashner slamming the door in the ninth, earning the save in his first collegiate appearance.
“I felt good with the fastball, kept it down and was getting ahead of everybody – that was big today,” said Maxwell, who improves to 1-0 on the season and 2-0 in his career. “I was real comfortable going into the game, but when your team does something like (getting an early lead), it adds so much more confidence in the situation. You just go out and put yourself on cruise control.”
On a day that set attendance records for Lupton Stadium, the Horned Frogs couldn’t match late Cal State-Fullerton runs, falling 7-4 to the Titans on Sunday.
The loss came in front of a crowd of 2,670, which pushed the total attendance for the weekend series to 7,486 – an all-time record for the team. The previous record was set last year in a series with San Diego State totaling 6,989 in attendance.
“I think (the attendance) certainly made our guys feel good about the support that they get,” Schlossnagle said. “Our team and our staff is excited, and we hope the fans come back out.”
Fullerton moved to an early 2-0 lead in the first as freshman Greg Holle took the mound for the Horned Frogs for the first time. Holle struggled in his first inning of work, but he found his stride as the game continued.
“I think it is natural to be a little nervous coming out, and I got myself in a bit of a jam and had a couple of tough breaks, but after that I felt fine,” Holle said.
Holle left the game after 4.2 innings, allowing two earned runs.
The Horned Frogs were close to tying the game in the bottom of the ninth on a towering fly ball by senior Clint Arnold, but the hit stayed in the yard resulting in a fly out and two runners still stranded on base.
WHAT’S UP NEXT
The game with the Patriots will put an end to the Horned Frogs’ opening homestand, and the game will be a chance for the team to even its record at 2-2. The first tournament of the season will be the Dairy Queen Classic this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Horned Frogs’ first opponent, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, was swept by the No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels last weekend.
For Your InfoTCU vs. Southern Methodist University
Where: Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
History: TCU took down SMU last season 7-0.