TCU claims series finale over K-State

Kansas State Wildcats

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(Courtesy: K-State Athletics)

MANHATTAN, Kan. – TCU plated three third-inning runs and rode its pitching staff the rest of the way to salvage the final game of the series with a 5-2 victory over Kansas State Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.

The Horned Frogs improved to 20-23 on the year and 8-10 in Big 12 play, while K-State fell to 31-14 overall and 9-6 in league action. The loss snapped a 13-game home winning streak for Kansas State, which was the second-longest under head coach Brad Hill. The 2006 squad began its home schedule by winning the first 16 games.

In the third inning, TCU registered three-straight singles, the latter by Cody Jones to plate the first run. After a walk loaded the bases, the Horned Frogs produced a pair of runs without the ball leaving the infield as Paul Hendrix recorded a RBI ground out and Jantzen Witte beat out an infield single to make the score 3-0.

That proved to be all TCU needed as the Wildcats had difficulties stringing together base hits against a talented Horned Frog pitching staff. Starter Andrew Mitchell faced just three over the minimum through the first four innings before K-State loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Mitchell surrendered a sacrifice fly to Mitch Meyer, and TCU elected to go to submarine right-hander Justin Scharf.

With two runners on base, Ross Kivett swung at the first offering from Scharf (1-2) and grounded into a double play as TCU held on to its two-run lead.

The double play gave the TCU pitchers momentum as Scharf worked 1.1 innings, while Travis Evans, Riley Ferrell and Alex Young finished off the game with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. Young picked up his third save of the season by tossing a perfect ninth inning with strikeout.

“TCU has a great pitching staff,” Hill said. “That’s as deep a pitching staff as we’ve seen all year. They ran guy after guy out there, and, quite honestly, that’s the first time I’ve seen our offense get worn out. We just got worn down.”

After Scharf induced the double-play ball, the TCU offense rewarded him with a pair of runs the next half inning. Kevin Cron walked and moved to third base on a wild pitch and a passed ball during Brett Johnson’s at-bat, which resulted in a RBI triple. Johnson scored when Kyle Bacak lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Horned Frogs a 5-1 lead.

TCU was led offensively by Witte, who went 3-for-3 with a RBI, while Boomer White recorded two hits. The Horned Frogs had three infield singles in the game and finished the weekend by totaling eight.

Kansas State starting pitcher Blake McFadden (4-2) suffered the loss by surrendering three runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2.1 innings. After allowing two of his three inherited runners to score, Jared Moore went on to toss 2.2 scoreless innings, while Nate Williams, Jake Matthys and Tanner Witt combined for four scoreless frames.

Kansas State had another chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Austin Fisher hit his 15th double of the year down the left-field line to pull the Wildcats to within three. After a walk, TCU brought in Evans, who struck out RJ Santigate to end the inning with two runners on base. The strikeout began a streak of 10-straight retired batters to finish the contest.

The sixth-inning double extended Fisher’s hitting streak to a career-long tying 10 games as the shortstop is hitting an even .500 (18-for-36) during that span.

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