The Horned Frog hitters ate their Wheaties Sunday morning.
Five sluggers belted home runs, including two grand slams in the fifth inning, in a 19-3 rout of New Mexico with the wind blowing straight out at Lupton Stadium on Sunday afternoon. TCU (19-9, 6-3 MWC) completed a weekend sweep of the Lobos (25-8, 5-4 MWC) to leapfrog New Mexico and move into a tie for first with San Diego State atop the conference standings.
Five TCU runs in the opening frame were plenty for freshman starter Kyle Winkler, who tossed five innings and allowed three runs on three hits to earn the win. Designated hitter Jimme Pharr and third baseman Matt Carpenter belted grand slams, and left fielder Jason Coats, right fielder Chris Ellington and catcher Bryan Holaday all hit two-run shots to propel the Horned Frog offense. Carpenter went 3-5 on the day with five RBI and finished a single short of the cycle. All nine Horned Frog hitters touched the plate in the contest.
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle didn’t seem surprised with his team’s display of power.
“We have some power on our club,” he said. “We’re leading the conference in homers and we play in the worst hitting ballpark, but when we go on the road we usually show it.”
TCU pitchers held New Mexico, which led the nation with a .407 batting average entering the weekend, to three runs or fewer in each game of the series.
“I thought we pitched really, really well,” he said. “It set the tone for the weekend, and then the bats came alive today.”
With a four-game win streak on the books after dropping four of their last seven, Carpenter said the Horned Frogs are riding high. They’ll need that confidence on the road, where they play eight of their next nine games, including a showdown with Texas in Austin on Tuesday night and a rematch with Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
“We’re starting to play really good defense, we’re pitching well, the bats are starting to coming around and our confidence is at its highest right now,” Carpenter said. “We hope we can take it on this road stretch and hopefully keep it going.”
With the bases loaded and TCU leading 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, New Mexico coach Ray Birmingham called on closer Clinton Cox to keep the Lobos close.
Pharr put Cox’s first pitch over the left-center field fence for his first grand slam of the season, and Carpenter deposited a 1-2 over the right-center field wall for a second time three batters later off Jason Oatman to stretch the lead to 14-2 and put the game out of reach.
When Carpenter headed back to the dugout, he said Pharr was waiting for him.
“I guess we just put ourselves in a part of TCU history,” Pharr told Carpenter, who said he had never seen anything like that at any level of baseball.
“We rarely see nine runs in an inning, let alone two grand slams,” Carpenter said. “That was pretty cool to do that in the same inning.”