Like they have so many times this season, the Frogs found themselves facing an early deficit with the bat in their hands and men in scoring position. This time, however, TCU showed a little timely hitting can go a long way – a long, long way.The Frogs downed Baylor Tuesday night 18-8 after an explosive first inning that not only clinched the game early but may prove to be a turning point in what has been a disappointing season so far.
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said although the team’s strong play started before its weekend tournament in San Diego, this victory was yet another sign of things to come.
“I think we played well over the weekend,” Schlossnagle said. “We didn’t swing it (then) like we did tonight, but usually if a team is going to have a good season you can usually look back to one point in the season where you say ‘hey, that was the night that really got us a lot of confidence and helped us get it going.’ The rest of the season will tell whether tonight’s that night or not, but it certainly looks like it.”
After Baylor took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, BU starter Owen Reid quickly ran into trouble in the bottom frame and was only able to induce a flyout from sophomore shortstop Bryan Kervin before the Bears’ wheels came off.
Designated hitter Steven Trout drew a walk, then was moved to second off junior first baseman Chad Huffman’s line drive single to right. After sophomore Matt Carpenter hit into the right field gap to load the bases, junior outfielder Keith Conlon smoked a double – which became a triple after a throwing error – down the left field line, narrowly avoiding both a foul ball and Trout, who was standing at third. The hit cleared the bases to give the Frogs a 3-1 lead.
The Frogs refused to let up, however, and sophomore catcher Andrew Walker furthered the damage with a massive home run over the left field fence that he punctuated with a confident bat toss to up the score to 5-1.
Walker said the situation was a good one for him to go deep.
“Man, I was in a good hitters count: two balls, no strikes,” Walker said. “I was just looking for a good pitch to drive and he just left one over the zone. As I hit it, I knew it was gone, but it felt real good. It’s been a while.”
Freshman infielder Corey Steglich, Kervin, Trout, Huffman, Carpenter and Walker all added RBI’s to give the Frogs a 12-1 advantage before the inning ended with a flyout to center.
Conlon, who tied a TCU record with three doubles, said although the team had been struggling so far to find offense at opportune times, tonight was an example of what can happen when it gets into a groove early.
“We finally got that big hit early on with runners in scoring position to open things up,” Conlon said. “We’ve been waiting for it for a while and we’re glad it happened tonight.”
The Frogs’ 12 first-inning runs were more than the total generated in their last five matchups against the Bears.
With three wins in their last four games, Walker said this stretch may lead to a strong finish to the season.
“I think this is going to be big for us,” Walker said.