By Jamie Plunkett
Frogs Today staff writer
FORT WORTH — TCU won an emotional roller coaster of a baseball game Friday night, clinching the series against Texas Tech with a 4-3 victory. An eventful ninth inning almost brought back memories of TCU’s series-opening loss to West Virginia.
With the Frogs leading 4-2 in the ninth inning, River Ridings made his way to the mound for his second inning of work. He promptly gave up a double and hit the next batter. A wild pitch moved the Tech runners to second and third with no outs.
As the Tech fans in Lupton Stadium began to get loud, Ridings notched a strikeout for the first out. Jace Jung then stepped to the plate. Ridings pitched to Tech’s slugger carefully, eventually walking him to load the bases.
A four-pitch walk to Ty Coleman brought Tech to within one run. After a pop up to Tommy Sacco for the second out, chaos ensued.
With a 2-2 count to pinch hitter Trevor Conley, Ridings made an awkward move on the mound. The home-plate umpire called a balk, which brought TCU coach Kirk Saarloos sprinting out of the dugout. As he came out, Tech’s runner at third ran home and celebrated as if he had scored the tying run.
The plate umpire called for a conference, during which the third-base and second-base umpires clarified that Ridings had stepped off the rubber. The umpires called the runner to go back to third base, which brought Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock out of the dugout.
Tadlock and the plate umpire exchanged heated words for several intense moments before Tadlock went back to the dugout and the game resumed.
One pitch later, Ridings induced a ground ball to Gray Rodgers at second base, which he fielded and threw to first for the final out. For Ridings it was his 10th save of the season.
Marcelo Perez (3-1) got his second career start, going five innings while allowing just one hit. Perez used a lot of pitches, but utilized his defense and struck out six along the way.
Perez’s counterpart for Texas Tech was Brandon Birdsell, who entered Friday’s contest with a sub-1.00 WHIP. Birdsell touched 99 mph with his fastball and mixed in good off speed pitches, but TCU’s bats did just enough against him.
First baseman David Bishop led off the second inning with a single up the middle. Reed Spenrath worked a walk, after which catcher Kurtis Byrne hit his first of two doubles on the day. Bishop came around to score. While Spenrath was thrown out at the plate, Byrne managed to advance to third on the throw home.
Luke Boyers then grounded out to second base, scoring Byrne and giving TCU a 2-0 lead.
That’s where the score would stay until the sixth inning, when TCU put two more on the board. Bishop scored again on another Byrne hit, and two batters later Byrne scored on a wild pitch.
Tech plated two runs in the eighth, cutting TCU’s lead to 4-2. Caleb Bolden, who came on in relief of Perez to start the sixth inning, put the first two batters on base before giving way to Ridings. Ridings conceded two hits, the second of which plated two runs.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Ridings managed to retire the next three batters to preserve TCU’s lead.
The Frogs now have an opportunity to sweep Texas Tech on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Watch the full postgame interviews with assistant coach Bill Mosiello, Byrne and Bishop.