By Melissa Triebwasser
Frogs Today staff writer
A trip to Lawrence, Kan., is apparently just what the doctor ordered for TCU. And that doctor was future doctor Porter Brown.
After back-to-back series marred by impotent offense, the Horned Frogs matched the program record for runs scored with a 30-3 rout of Kansas and have exploded for 45 runs in the first two games of their final series in conference play.
Outfielder Porter Brown set a team record with 10 RBIs thanks to a two-run homer in the Frogs’ seven-run first inning and a grand slam in the seventh.
After scoring 10 runs Friday in the final four innings, the Frogs scored five runs with two outs in the first.
Meanwhile, Marcelo Perez was dealing.
The junior right-hander scattered single runs across the second, third and fourth innings, but never allowed the last-place Jayhawks to string together hits in critical moments. With a healthy lead to play with — the Frogs were up 12-2 after three — Perez looked loose and confident as he scattered three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and just two walks across six innings.
With crooked numbers in the first, third, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, this one was never in doubt for TCU. But that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch Brown cook.
Much like a season ago, when the warmer weather seemed to heat up the TCU left fielder’s bat, Brown has been on a tear since graduating with a degree in Neuroscience a week ago. In his last four games, Brown is 8-18. Brown punctuated the blowout Saturday in the seventh with his second home run and third extra-base hit of the day. He added a single in the eighth with the bases loaded to push the TCU lead to 22.
Brown’s 10 runs batted in are a single-game TCU record, topping Royce Huffman’s previous mark of eight (1998). Gray Rodgers came close to the previous record as well, reaching seven RBIs with a ninth-inning grand slam. It was the Frogs’ fifth home run and second grand slam of the day.
With the game well in hand, coach Kirk Saarloos was able to go deep into his bench, using 16 position players and giving three pitchers an inning each to close out the game. Tommy Vail looked great, striking out two of the three batters he faced, as did freshmen Connor Oliver in the eighth. Another freshman, Gray Thomas, came in for the ninth, and recovered after plunking the first batter to also strike out two.
Among the more ridiculous stats on the day, TCU scored its 30 runs on 18 hits with 17 walks and three hit batters. The No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, Rodgers and Brown, combined for 17 RBIs; 15 different players reached safely, 11 drove in at least one run; and TCU has scored 29 runs from the fifth inning on across the last two games.
With just percentage points separating the top four teams in the standings (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and TCU), securing the sweep Sunday is critical for the Horned Frogs. They will have a chance to end their Big 12 regular season as the leaders in the clubhouse with each of the other three programs having a series remaining to try and pass them.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2 p.m., with Jayhawks seniors participating in their graduation ceremony prior to game time.