On a breezy Tuesday evening at Lupton Stadium, the No. 7 Horned Frogs beat the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks 7-3 in an offensively dominated 21-hit ballgame.
A few key defensive plays allowed TCU (8-4) to seal the victory under the leadership of starting freshman pitcher Stefan Crichton and three Frogs relievers. Mavs starting pitcher Chase Weaver recorded the loss, giving up two runs on three hits in two innings of work. The Mavericks fell to 6-6 for the season.
TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said defense made the difference for the Horned Frogs, especially since UTA outhit TCU 11 to 10.
“Four plays were the difference in the game because we got outhit,” Schlossnagle said.
While the video evidence may have disagreed with the umpire’s call, senior reliever Trent Appleby was credited with an out in the top of the fifth inning when he picked off UTA left fielder Ryan Walker at first base. Appleby would notch the win for TCU and junior reliever Erik Miller was credited with his third save of the season.
TCU junior right fielder Brance Rivera received a brief roar from the 3,740 fans in attendance when he made a diving catch for the first out in the top of the seventh inning. In a non-controversial tag, Miller pitched out to TCU senior catcher Jimmie Pharr, who threw out UTA pinch hitter Cody Dyvig at first base to conclude the top of the eighth inning.
Schlossnagle did not seem particularly impressed with the play of TCU’s four pitchers.
“We made some pitches when we had to, but I thought were very lackadaisical in the middle innings,” he said.
Besides a few solid defensive plays, it was heads-up base running and 10 TCU hits that overwhelmed UTA’s carousel of six pitchers.
In the bottom of the second inning junior center fielder Aaron Schultz hit a line-drive down the third base line for a double. He then stole third for his fourth steal this season.
Junior Zac Jordan replaced Schultz in the outfield in the top of the fourth inning. When asked what prompted that move, Schlossnagle said Schultz tweaked his hamstring a little bit.
“[Schultz] said he was fine, but I didn’t like the way he rounded second base, and we can’t risk that,” Schlossnagle said.
Although seven Horned Frogs recorded hits, junior left fielder Jason Coats and junior shortstop Taylor Featherston especially stood out. Coats went 3-for-5, including an RBI triple in the first, and an RBI single later in the eighth inning.
Featherston was 2-for-4 with a home run in the third inning and a clutch RBI single in the bottom of the eighth 8212; barely running out the play at first to save the inning.
“K” is the letter of the game
Although mid-week games do not always carry the same emotion as a weekend series, two brothers had a reason to be especially psyched-up. TCU junior Kaleb Merck, who is out this season recovering from Tommy John Surgery on his throwing arm, watched his brother Kasey, a freshman relief pitcher for UTA, pitch one inning.
“I’ve never actually seen him pitch,” Kaleb Merck said. “It was really weird when we hit a home run. I was happy we hit one, but I felt bad he gave up one. It’s strange.”
The letter “K” seems to run in the Merck family. Kaleb and Kasey have a younger brother named Kyler, and they all went to Keller High School. When asked whether Kasey, still a sophomore in high school, throws Ks 8212; the baseball abbreviation for a strikeout 8212; like his older brothers, Kaleb Merck said, “He actually doesn’t play baseball. I think he got burned out watching us play for 10 years of our lives.”
Houston Baptist will travel to Fort Worth to play a three-game weekend series against TCU at Lupton Stadium. First pitch is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m.