The Horned Frogs closed the first day of games at the Conoco West Conference baseball tournament with a 13-2 victory over the sixth-seeded Utah Utes Wednesday night.
Freshman Matt Purke dominated in his 12th win of the year and sophomore Aaron Schultz drove in three to lead the Frogs to victory.
Purke was outstanding in the start for the Frogs as he improved to 12-0 on the season. He went seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. He fanned a career-high 14 batters and walked three. Purke struck out the side three times in the contest. Greg Holle pitched a perfect eighth inning, recording one strikeout. Eric Marshall sat down the side in the ninth and also tallied a strikeout.
The Frogs spotted itself to a 4-0 lead in the first as the Frogs sent all nine batters to the plate. Brance Rivera started the inning with a sharply hit single up the middle. Bryan Holaday walked and Jason Coats reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Matt Curry put the Frogs on top as he worked a bases-loaded walk. Taylor Featherston made it a 2-0 contest with a base hit up the middle and Jantzen Witte came through with a two-out base hit to drive in two more runs.
Schultz’s eighth home run of the season drove in two as the Frogs built a 6-0 lead in the third inning. Featherston had lead off the inning with a bloop single to center and scored on the Schultz blast.
Purke found himself in a bit of a jam in the fourth inning as the first two batters singled to open the inning. The conference Freshman of the Year worked out of the jam in style as he fanned the next three batters he faced to strand the runners on base.
In the fifth, Featherston started another four-run inning as he led off the frame with a triple down the left field line. Schultz collected his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to left field to make it a 7-0 game. A base hit by Witte started a string of six straight hitters reaching base. Jerome Pena executed a perfect hit and run to move Witte to third and Rivera was plunked by a Jordan Whatcott offering to load the bases. Holaday worked the second bases-loaded walk of the game to drive in the second run of the inning. Coats dumped a single into left field that plated to more and gave the Frogs a commanding 10-0 lead.
TCU’s string of 28 consecutive innings without allowing a run came to an end in the sixth as the Utes picked up two runs on one hit and two Frog errors. Nik Kuroczko walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Cron broke the shutout with a base hit through the right side. A walk and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases and a failed pick-off attempt allowed the Utes second run to score. Purke settled down and fanned the final two batters of the inning to limit the damage.
Kyle Von Tungeln restored the Frogs’ 10-run lead with a pinch hit, two-run triple with two outs in the eighth inning. The three-base hit plated Curry, who had reached base for the ninth-straight time with a walk, and Featherston, who had collected his fourth hit of the night. Witte drove in von Tungeln to make it a 13-2 ballgame.
TCU improves to 44-11 on the season. The Frogs will advance in the winner’s bracket of the conference tournament and will face the fifth-seeded UNLV Rebels, who have defeated both BYU and New Mexico this week. Game time for Thursday’s game is set for 9 p.m. (CST). Kyle Winkler will go for TCU and face UNLV’s Brian Gilbertson.