TCU evens series, defeats Cal State Fullerton behind 19 hits


By Charles Baggarly

FORT WORTH – The game was close until it wasn’t.

On Saturday, the Horned Frog offense exploded for eight runs in the eighth inning against the Titans; 10 consecutive batters reached safely facing two outs. TCU evened the series, defeating No. 24 California State Fullerton 13-4.

The offense responded after a lackluster performance in Friday’s loss, passing the baton with 19 base hits. Centerfielder Elijah Nunez led the way with a team-high four hits.

After drawing a walk in the eighth inning, Nunez was ejected because he “said something he shouldn’t have.”

“I don’t fault the umpire at all,” TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos said. “You let your play speak for yourself. End of story.”

In TCU’s last eight games, Nunez has been an offensive powerhouse. During the stretch, the Horned Frog centerfielder has a batting average of .531 and has improved his season batting average to .301.

“[Nunez] is playing as good as he’s played here in three years,” Saarloos said. “And his game is speaking for itself.”

Right fielder Austin Davis said Nunez is “starting to heat up at the right time.”

“[Nunez] has always been all about confidence,” Davis said. “I’m glad that he’s getting hot, and he deserves it. Nobody works harder than him.”

In total, TCU’s offense had one of its best games. Saarloos said the Frogs did well, placing base hits in a variety of directions. It was a sign of a “good-hitting team.”

“We did what we should have done with pitches in the middle of the plate,” Saarloos said. “… It’s nice to see base hits going in different directions, so they can’t defend you the way they want.”

Attacking the Titan offense

Sam Stoutenbrough had a strong outing, utilizing fastballs with effective off speed pitches that caused Titan balance to freeze. In four 2/3 innings, Stoutenborough struck out six and allowed five hits and a walk; he finished with two earned runs.

Saarloos said the Horned Frogs are “depleted” on the mound, and it’s “all hands on deck.” Stoutenborough learned he was starting at 11 p.m. on Friday night; He delivered a strong performance, which Saarloos said gave the team an opportunity.

“I thought he did a really good job late in counts with his fastball and not relying too much on his breaking ball or his changeup,” Saarloos said. 

Luke Savage took over, but couldn’t keep the Titans off the scoreboard after an error from shortstop Anthony Silva. The Titans tied the game, but the offense quickly responded; Savage continued to toss three 1/3 innings, allowing zero earned runs and striking out three.

Davis, in the seventh inning, helped out Savage with a ridiculous catch. On a fly ball well out of play, Davis tracked it through the wind, fully extending and toppling over the bullpen fence; he did a full somersalt after catching the ball and managed to maintain possession.

“That’s as good as it gets in terms of doing everything you can to get an out,” Saarloos said. “You don’t see that. I certainly haven’t seen it. And it’s just an amazing play, and I was just hoping he popped up and was alright.”

Up next

TCU will face Cal State Fullerton at noon on Sunday at Lupton Baseball Stadium, and the winner will secure the weekend series victory. Kole Klecker will start on the mound for the Horned Frogs.