Despite having a comfortable lead throughout most of the game, the No. 9 Texas Longhorns (17-10, 3-3) allowed the No. 22 TCU Horned Frogs (15-7, 2-1) to come back and take the win away from the Horns, 12-8. The loss results in a series loss and brings the Longhorns to .500 in conference play.
Texas picked up right where it left off last night as they sprinted to a three run lead in the top of the first. Following an Ellis single up the middle and a Kennedy bunt, an Austin Todd bunt resulted in both men on base to score caused by a throwing error to first base. Interesting to note, with no outs and the three-hole hitter up to bat, David Pierce decided to take the small ball approach and make Todd bunt. Credit to Pierce and Todd for a well-executed approach, as the TCU defense couldn’t handle the pressure. Continuing their success with two outs, a Ryan Reynolds RBI single to left field scored Todd to bring the score 3-0.
Moving to the top of the fourth inning, Pierce and the Longhorns basically dared the TCU defense to make plays in the field. The first four batters of the inning for the Horns all squared to bunt and got on base, with the only exception coming on a Duke Ellis walk – which was his laughable 32nd of the season.
With the bases loaded and no outs, an Eric Kennedy RBI bunt placed in no-man’s land scored the run from third, giving Texas a three run lead. The inning was capped off with an Austin Todd RBI sac-fly to right field, giving way for Lance Ford to score. Up to this point, the Horns’ plan at the plate had forced three errors by the Horned Frog defense, resulting in a 5-1 Texas lead.
Coy Cobb’s day was done following the fourth inning, and even though it was a short outing for the freshman, the TCU offense didn’t generate much action. Though two solo-home runs were allowed, Cobb only relinquished three hits on 50 pitches. If you’re going to allow home runs, they might as well be solo ones. Kam Fields came on in the fifth, hoping to move past the collapse that took place during the opening game of the series.
Following a solid fifth for Fields, the Longhorns added two more to their score in the top of the sixth. Once again with two outs, RBI singles by Reynolds and Shaw brought it to a 7-2 game in favor of Texas. The dinkin’ and dunkin’ game plan at the plate was proving to be fruitful as a TCU defense that only had committed 21 errors coming into the game had four total at this point.
Despite having a five-run lead, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Kam Fields in the bottom of the sixth. A three-run home run from Adam Oviedo cut the Texas lead to 7-5 and kept the game within reach for the Horned Frogs. Before pitching to Oviedo, it seemed like Pierce was ready to pull Fields from the game, but from my vantage point it seemed like Fields won that conversation on the mound. As you can imagine, Fields’ day was done as Mason Bryant came in to close out the sixth.
Texas answered right back in the top of the seventh with a run of their own, getting back a much-needed insurance run. With Ford walking to start the inning, an Eric Kennedy single to first base resulted in the Horns having runners on the corners with one out. Kennedy at this point had reached base all four times – with all four times not even leaving the infield. An Austin Todd RBI groundout to third base gave the Horns an 8-5 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the bottom of the seventh as a two-run home run by Hunter Wolfe made it a one run game. Texas pitching at this point had allowed every single run by TCU via the long ball. Definitely not something Pierce and pitching coach Phil Haig want to see from their bullpen. Nevertheless, Texas was able to get out of the inning hanging on to their one run lead.
The Horns couldn’t push one across in the eighth inning despite having two runners in scoring position as Lance Ford stuck out looking to end the threat from the Longhorns. Smartly, trying to protect their one run lead, Coach Pierce turned to Cole Quintanilla in the bottom of the eighth to try to shut the door on TCU.
What happened next was a complete collapse by the Texas pitching and defense.
Following four straight hits by the Horned Frogs, TCU had its first lead of the ball game. Texas had a chance to get out of the eighth trailing only by one, but a failed double play resulted in two more runs for TCU. The inning ended with the home team leading comfortably with a four run lead.
Unfortunately, there was no late inning magic we’ve seen from the Horns this season, as TCU pitcher Marcelo Perez retired the top of the Texas lineup in order.
Frustrating game to say the least. No – it was a frustrating series. Texas let a series win slip away, quite possibly a sweep, against a top-25 team on the road.
As the March gauntlet comes to an end, the Texas Longhorns will look to get back on track in a midweek game against the Incarnate Word Cardinals (15-9) in San Antonio. First pitch is scheduled to be at 7 PM Central.