Horned Frogs gain victory over the Utes with 8-2

OGDEN, Utah – The No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs won its fourth straight series sweep, the first in the university’s history, with an 8-2 victory against Utah Utes on Sunday afternoon.

TCU improved to a 34-9 conference winning streak on the season and 14-3 in league play. The Frogs will take the week off for finals and return to travel to New Mexico for a pivotal Mountain West Conference showdown with the Aztecs. Friday’s series-opener is set for 1 p.m. (CST).

TCU’s starting pitcher junior Steven Maxwell, earning his seventh win of the season, pitched a gem for the Frogs, holding the Utes to a run on seven hits in eight innings of work. On three occasions, Maxwell got the Utes to bounce into inning-ending double plays, including each of the seventh and eighth innings. Along the way, Maxwell issued one walk and struck out eight batters. Sophomore Kaleb Merck allowed a run on two hits in his lone inning of work.

Senior catcher Bryan Holaday continued his torrid hot-streak in the first inning as he got the Frogs on the board. He connected for his 10th home run of the season with a one-out solo shot to left field, giving the Frogs a 1-0 lead.

Three doubles in the third inning translated into two runs and a 3-0 TCU lead. Sophomore third baseman Aaron Schultz doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a Bryn Card wild pitch. Redshirt freshmen Jantzen Witte followed with an RBI-double to left field. Sophomore Brance Rivera’s sacrificial bunt moved Witte to third and Holaday collected his second RBI of the game with a double to left field.

Utah threatened to climb back into the game in the bottom of the fourth as they sent six batters to the plate. C.J. Cron worked a lead-off walk. Maxwell struck out Devin Walker for the first out of the inning before yielding three straight singles. The Utes played station-to-station baseball and Cron scored on a Michael Beltran single up the middle. Maxwell got out of the jam as he got Cooper Blanc to ground into the inning-ending double play to keep it a 3-1 contest.

TCU picked up four huge insurance runs in the top of the seventh to extend its lead to 7-1. Schultz reached on an error and Witte tallied a one-out single to start the rally. The Utes went to the pen and called on Ryan Duke who got the second out of the inning before Holaday worked a 3-2 walk. Sophomore outfielder Jason Coats turned around his afternoon with one swing of the bat as he deposited the Duke offering over the right field fence for a grand slam.

Sophomore Taylor Featherston tacked onto the Frog lead with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the eighth inning. The home run gave TCU an 8-1 lead.

Cron accounted for the Utes’ second run of the game with a lead-off home run in the ninth.