TCU scored five runs without benefit of a hit — four of them without swinging the bat at all — as titdowned West Virginia 5-3 on Saturday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
The Horned Frogs, featuring eight hitters in the lineup with averages over .300, scored runs in the third and fourth innings on bases-loaded walks, then added its only run via a swing with a fielders’ choice later in the fourth. They got their final two runs on throwing error by WVU catcher Matt McCormick on a steal attempt and a passed ball as they won for the 21st time in their last 24 games.
The Horned Frogs (32-10, 14-3) were in control for the first two-thirds of the game, holding a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. However, West Virginia began to chip away, scoring single runs in each of the next three innings on an Alec Burns groundout, a Paul McIntosh RBI single and a Burns solo home run that cut the lead to 5-3.
TCU, though, got two innings of effective relief from River Ridings, who earned his first save of the season by allowing just one hit over the final two innings. Coming on after Burns’ homer, which led off the home eighth, Ridings struck out four to secure the win for starter Austin Krob, who ran his record to 6-0 on the season after allowing only one earned run over 5.2 innings.
West Virginia’s effort was again hampered by the issues that have plagued it all year — a lack of timely hitting, loss of pitching control and critical errors at key moments. Mountaineer pitchers issued 11 walks (two intentional) and suffered two wild pitches, with a third that could have been scored as such but was ruled a passed ball.
At the plate, the Mountaineers were 1-11 with runners in scoring position, and 3-16 with runners on. TCU left 14 aboard and was just as unproductive in those situations, but the assists provided by WVU made the difference in the game.
Austin Davis continued to show his liking for his return to the top of the batting order, going 4-5 with a run scored. McIntosh had a pair of hits and an RBI, and Burns drove in two with his home run, the first of his career, and a groundout.
SEAMS AND BARRELS
West Virginia (15-20, 6-10) again shuffled its lineup and batting order as it looked for a spark. Braden Barry, who started in centerfield on Friday, moved to left and hit second in the order. Dominic Ragazzo took his spot in center and hit third, and McIntosh moved to the cleanup spot as the designated hitter.
Further down the order, Burns played third, McCormick gave McIntosh a rest behind the plate, and Ben Abernathy started the day at second. Tyler Doanes sat the game out, while Victor Scott and Kevin Brophy filled pinching hitting roles before moving into the field in the later innings.
“We have been getting little to no production out of the middle of our lineup, so we had to try some different moving parts,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “I wasn’t trying to experiment, wasn’t trying to develop, wasn’t trying to trick anybody.”
McIntosh and Burns provided all of WVU’s run production from the fourth and sixth slots in the order.
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WVU pitched out twice in good anticipation of TCU steal attempts, but both throws were off target, allowing Frog baserunners to reach safely. TCU was 4-4 in steal attempts on the afternoon, producing one run and keeping pressure on Mountaineer pitchers.
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West Virginia put runners aboard in each of the first two innings, and tried to get its aggressive stance on the basepaths back on track, but TCU had none of it. In the first, Austin Davis got aboard with a bunt single and moved to second on Braden Barry’s sacrifice bunt, but was cut down at third trying to advance on Dominic Ragazzo’s flyout to right. In the second, Paul McIntosh singled to lead off, but was caught stealing — the fifth time in six attempts that he has been nabbed this year.