After No. 14 TCU (15-8) allowed 17 runs in the first two games of the weekend series against Houston (12-13), senior starting pitcher Steven Maxwell evened out the Cougars’ weekend runs per game average by matching his career high with 10 strike outs in a 9-1 Frogs win.
Maxwell (3-0) pitched six innings, allowing three hits while Cougars’ starting pitcher Codey Morehouse (2-3) only lasted one inning, allowing seven runs on five hits and walking three Frogs.
“Considering how we lost on Friday and the comeback on Saturday, today was the most complete game for us,” head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I would like us to be more offensive in the middle innings, but [Houston] did a good job of keeping us on our front foot and getting us to hit the ball in the air.”
In the bottom of the second inning sophomore third baseman Jantzen Witte advanced to third base on junior left fielder Jason Coats’s single. With runners on the corners, senior first baseman Joe Weik knocked an RBI single to center to drive in Witte.
Junior designated hitter Zac Jordan followed with a two RBI triple off the center field wall to put TCU up 3-0 with no outs.
Morehouse walked senior catcher Jimmie Pharr to put runners on the corners for the third time in the inning with no outs.
Rivera was knicked by a pitch to load the bases up for junior center fielder Aaron Schultz, who promptly jacked a grand slam over the center field wall to clear the bases and put the Frogs up 7-0 with no outs. It was Schultz’s third home run of the season and second grand slam of his career.
“With less than two outs and bases loaded I was just trying to not hit the ball on the ground,” Schultz said. “I really just wanted to get something in the air to get a sacrifice RBI and extend the lead. I got down two strikes and just started to battle him. He left a changeup right there, I put a good swing on it, and it went over the fence. It felt good.”
Travis Jenkins replaced Morehouse after he responded to the grand slam by walking junior shortstop Taylor Featherston.
With the rain turning from a mist to a steady light shower, many of the 4,010 fans in the stands were looking for cover, but those who stayed in their seats saw Aaron Schultz make a diving catch running straight back in center to end the top of the fourth inning.
“Coach Randy Mazey always teaches us to anticipate and be ready for balls in play in any direction,” Schultz said. “When that ball was hit in the air I just wanted to get a good jump on it, I felt good getting to it, but it just kept going so I had to dive; luckily I caught it.”
Schlossnagle said, “It isn’t [Schultz’s] natural position; he really isn’t the fastest guy out here. But he has great instincts, takes great routes, studies opposing batters and scouting reports. It is just something about being a baseball player that allows him to be successful.”
The Cougars’ put runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, and M.P. Cokinos hit an RBI single past Witte to put a dent in the score and cut TCU’s lead to 7-1.
With the bases loaded againfor Schultzand one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Schultz couldn’t get the ball out of the infield, popping up to Chase Jensen. Featherston grounded to Cougars’ second baseman Ryan Still, whose throw just beat Featherston to the bag to end the fifth.
Maxwell tied a career high with 10 strike outs in the top of the sixth inning, but wouldn’t have a chance to break his record as freshman reliever Stefan Crichton (2-1) came in to pitch in the seventh inning.
“I was able to stay warm in the dugout between innings, so that wasn’t a big issue,” Maxwell said. “I had some problems locating my fastball in early in the game, but luckily I had my breaking pitch and my changeup working for me today so it ended up working out.”
Crichton promptly loaded up the bases in relief after two hits and a Witte error on a ground ball. It looked like a possible Cougars’ comeback, but with two outs Crichton got out ofthe jam.
Taylor Hammack replaced Jenkins in the bottom of the eighth for the Cougars. Jenkins pitched six innings, gave up two hits and didn’t allow a run for Houston.
Junior right fielder Brance Rivera extended his hitting streak to 23 games in the eighth inning on a double he blooped to right field. Featherston hit a sacrifice fly RBI to bring Rivera home Coats followed with a solo home run to bring the score to 9-1. It was Coats’s fourth home run of the season.
Freshman Andrew Mitchell was given the nod in the ninth inning to finish the game for TCU. Chrichton didn’t allow a run in two innings and gave up two hits and struck out three in relief.
Aaron Schultz now has two career grand slams.
Brance Rivera extended his hit streak to 23 games.
TCU matched its nine hits with nine runs scored.
Sunday marked the fourth game of TCU’s season-long 13 game homestand.
The Frogs play their fifth game of their 13-game homestand against Stephen F. Austin Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard on 88.7-FM KTCU. Junior Erik Miller will make his first start of the season for TCU.