Many times, coaching is simply saying the right thing at the right time.
Jim Schlossnagle did it twice Sunday. (At least).
First, he went out to talk to Nolan Brown in the middle of an at-bat with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
Then, in the 10th inning, he offered a reminder to Luken Baker about the kind of pitches he’d see.
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The results? Judge for yourself.
Brown came back from a 1-2 count to walk and force in TCU’s first run, and Baker smashed a double to the base of the wall in right center to score the winning run in a 4-3 victory that finished a sweep of Texas in a Big 12 series at Lupton Stadium.
TCU’s magic number to win the Big 12 regular season is 2. Any combination of victories and Texas Tech losses totaling two clinches the title.
The win put the seventh-ranked Horned Frogs (35-11, 15-6 Big 12) two games up in the conference and handed Schlossnagle his 600th victory at TCU with a crowd of 5,460 watching.
Sounds like some effective whispering.
“I said, he’s going to throw you fastballs. You’ve just got to get one down, just pick one out,” Schlossnagle said, recalling his words to Baker, who was due to hit third in the 10th and was 0-for-4. “Of course, it’s real easy for me to say that, but really hard for him to do. But he did it.”
Of his visit with Brown, Schlossnagle said it was the first time he had gone out to talk to a batter in the middle of an at-bat. The senior center fielder, 1-for-11 with two walks and two strikeouts in the series to that point, fouled the next two pitches from Texas reliever Chase Shugart, took two balls, fouled another pitch, then walked to cut the Texas lead to 3-1.
“He was fighting through at-bats,” Schlossnagle said. “Nolan fought his way through the AB.”
2Outfield assists for TCU left fielder Josh Watson in the series, both in the 10th inning. He threw out a runner at home in Game 1 and a runner at second in Game 3.
With two out, Evan Williams walked to cut the lead to 3-2 before Texas closer Beau Ridgeway entered to retire Josh Watson on a deep drive to right center.
In the eighth inning, Evan Skoug’s RBI double tied the game against Ridgeway, scoring Connor Wanhanen, who had led off with a single and moved to second on a ground ball.
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The 10th inning was also set up by a leadoff single from Wanhanen, batting leadoff in place of Austen Wade, who sat out with a bruise suffered when he hit the wall chasing a foul ball in the ninth inning Saturday.
Wanhanen was erased on Ryan Merrill’s sacrifice bunt attempt, but Baker’s extra-base hit against Nick Kennedy (7-1) scored Merrill from first. The ball caromed off the base of the wall away from outfielders Travis Jones and Zane Gurwitz, and that gave Merrill enough time to get around the bases.
It feels awesome, especially at the end of the day I was having. I was struggling a little bit throughout the game. It was good to get that last one.
TCU first baseman Luken Baker, on his game-winning double
“It feels awesome, especially at the end of the day I was having,” Baker said after his only hit of the game and a 4-for-13 series. “I was struggling a little bit throughout the game. It was good to get that last one.”
Sophomore right-hander Sean Wymer (3-2) won with 4 1/3 innings of relief, allowing only an unearned run and five hits. He struck out one and walked none.
Mitchell Traver started for TCU and pitched a season-high 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven. He walked two and gave up four hits, including a home run to Kody Clemens. Honored earlier on Senior Day with seven other players, Traver exited in a two-run game to an ovation from the crowd.
“He pitched 5 2/3 . That’s awesome,” Schlossnagle said. “If we could just get that the rest of the year, that makes us better.”
Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez
Johnston, Shugart (7), Ridgeway (7), Kennedy (9) and Cantu. Traver, Wymer (6) and Skoug. W—Wymer (3-2). L—Kennedy (7-1). 2B—TCU: Baker (8); Skoug (4); Barzilli (12). HR—Ko. Clemens (5). HBP—UT: by Kennedy (Landestoy). SH—UT: Ko. Clemens (3), Boswell (3). SF—UT: Jones (1). LOB—UT 7, TCU: 7. E—TCU: Baker (3), Wymer (1). DP—UT 2. T—3:17. A—5,460. RECORDS—Texas 31-19, 9-11 Big 12; TCU 35-11, 15-6.