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TCU 360

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Lack of execution may keep Frogs out of CWS

It seems that Dallas Baptist simply has TCU’s number right now. The Patriots bested the Horned Frogs 3-2 in the Fort Worth Regional in front a packed house at Lupton Stadium Saturday night. It marked the third time this season the Frogs fell to Dallas Baptist this season, and the second time at home.

After an offensive explosion from the Frogs in their opening game of the Fort Worth Regional, Saturday’s match against Dallas Baptist was very much a pitcher’s duel. Both Matt Purke and Jared Stafford were on tonight, which put runs in very short supply.

Purke went five solid innings, striking out six and giving up only two hits. It was reassuring to see Purke’s velocity climb back up to 92 to 93 mph, after Purke had previously struggled as recently as the Mountain West Conference Tournament to break 90 mph on the radar gun.

Despite those positives, Purke’s command was off for most of his outing. He walked two, hit two batters and threw three wild pitches, which helped lead to two early runs for the Patriots. And because Purke has battled injuries all season, Schlossnagle decided to pull Purke after only throwing 83 pitches, most likely to prevent any potential injuries. When a pitcher is going to be on such a restricted pitch count, walks and hit batsmen can become a killer.

After Purke was taken out, Dallas Baptist got a run in the sixth via a double and weakly hit bouncing single that was just out of the reach of second baseman Jerome Pena.

For the first half of the regional match between TCU and Dallas Baptist University, the Horned Frogs looked baffled on offense. Patriots pitcher Jared Stafford had held the host team of the Fort Worth Regional, the same team that exploded for 10 runs the previous game, hitless through the first four innings, striking out two in the process.

When the Horned Frogs did in fact make contact, the majority of the balls were weakly hit. That changed in the fifth when the Frogs got two hits, the biggest one being when Taylor Featherston their first run of the game. Featherston was later brought home by a groundout from Brett Johnson to tie the score at 2-2.

But outside the fifth inning, the offense was largely quiet after such a big outing the night earlier. Stafford went 8 1/3 innings, giving up only three hits and two runs. The night for the team was very similar to the conference tournament in late May, when TCU scored and 14 runs against Utah, but was held in check by New Mexico the following night, scoring only two runs in their loss to conference champion New Mexico. It’s this inconsistency that has been a major cause for some of the Frogs’ struggles this season.

The Frogs had a chance in the ninth inning when the leadoff runner got on base via an error. There was a close, but correct call on the field by the umpire when Taylor Featherston was called out after a close play at first place when Ryan Behmanesh had to stretch out to stay on the bag. Schlossnagle obviously disagreed with the call, and was ejected after a lengthy argument with the first base umpire. The Frogs were able to get the Featherson to third base with two outs, but Josh Elander struck out on only three pitches to end the game.

The loss makes it that much tougher now for TCU to advance to the Super Regionals. The margin for error is now zero, as they have to beat Oral Roberts and Dallas Baptist twice if they hope to advance in the tournament. The team definitely has the talent to win three straight, but execution, not talent, is what may keep the Horned Frogs home watching the College World Series instead of participating in it.

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