Brian Howard threw for eight scoreless innings Saturday as the No. 7 Horned Frogs defeated Texas 8-2 at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, securing the series victory against the Longhorns.
Coming off a walk-off win in extra innings Friday night, the Frogs built an early 8-0 lead against their conference rivals courtesy of a seven-run third inning. Howard, who had been roughed up with seven earned runs in a 21-3 loss to Texas Tech in his last outing, only surrendered one hit to the Longhorns in Sunday’s masterpiece. Howard improved to 7-3 with the win while lowering his ERA to 4.20.
The TCU bullpen once again showed signs of vulnerability in the ninth, as Dalton Brown failed to record the save after allowing two runs before walking the bases loaded with two outs. Cal Coughlin, however, was able to escape the jam and secure the win for the Frogs, who improved to 34-11 on the season.
After a scoreless first inning, the Frogs opened up the scoring when catcher Evan Skoug launched a solo home run to left center field in the bottom of the second inning. The long ball was Skoug’s third of the weekend, homering twice in Friday night’s win, and twelfth of the season.
One inning later, TCU broke the game wide open by plating seven runs off three singles, a double and a fielder’s choice, chasing Texas starting pitcher Nolan Kingham. The Frogs batted around the order in the inning, sending 12 men to the plate.
The rally began with a lead-off single from Ryan Merrill, who stole second base before being singled in by Josh Watson two batters later. A Connor Wanhanen single then brought in both Austen Wade and Watson to make it 4-0.
After Luken Baker doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out, Evan Skoug tallied his second RBI of the game on a groundout that brought Wanhanen home from third. Cam Warner singled in Baker on the next at-bat before Merrill came back up to the plate and doubled in two runs three batters later to cap off the explosive inning for TCU.
After five innings of scoreless baseball, the Longhorns were finally able to make some noise in the ninth inning once Brown entered the game to relieve Howard. Brown surrendered a lead-off double to shortstop Travis Jones before Kacy Clemens hit an RBI single the next at-bat.
Brown would induce consecutive ground outs, but allowed another single and two walks over the next three at-bats to load the bases with two outs, forcing TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle to turn to Coughlin for the final out. Coughlin managed to work a ground-out on a 2-2 count to left fielder Austin Todd, with Warner recording the force at second to end the game.
The Frogs finished the game with 11 hits, while Texas only recorded a mere three – two of them coming in the ninth inning. TCU’s bullpen, however, has now surrendered 26 runs in its last three outings.
TCU will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon as the Frogs and Longhorns go at it in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., with the game televised on ESPNU.