TCU baseball downs Santa Clara, then clinches share of Big 12 regular-season title

·2 min read
Gregg Ellman/Courtesy of TCU Athletics

TCU baseball fans are usually greeted with scores from across the country during games at Lupton Stadium. That segment didn’t happen on Thursday night, though, when Frogs coach Kirk Saarloos phoned the press box to scrap it.

After all, everyone knew TCU had a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title if Oklahoma knocked off Texas Tech. At the time of Saarloos’ call, OU had built a comfortable lead on Tech while TCU was in a tight ballgame, trailing Santa Clara 4-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.

“Not one of our guys asked. We didn’t talk about it,” Saarloos said. “We have a ballgame to play and we’re not going to scoreboard watch, so I don’t think they knew. They care, but their mindset in our dugout was awesome tonight. They’re having fun. Obviously winning makes things more fun. They showed up ready to play this game and let everything else take care of itself.”

In the end, everything took care of itself for TCU. The Frogs scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and held on for a 7-6 victory over Santa Clara. And the Sooners did their part in defeating the Red Raiders 13-8 in Lubbock.

TCU is Big 12 champs once again. It’s the first time the program has won consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles since joining the league in 2012. However, it could be a shared title depending on how the rest of the weekend plays out.

Still, a championship is a championship and the Frogs have secured one of the top two seeds in next week’s Big 12 tournament at Globe Life Field.

And, yes, the players knew what was at stake even if Saarloos tried to downplay it.

“We won one last year, so I hope this group can win another one,” sophomore outfielder Elijah Nunez said. “It’d be huge, especially as a freshman and doing it your sophomore year. You can’t ask for anything more except for a national championship, which is what we’re striving for.”

For TCU, it’s a team that is trending in the right direction at the right time. The Frogs are now riding a five-game winning streak. They’ll face Santa Clara in Game 2 of the series at 6 p.m. Friday. Game 3 will take place at noon Saturday.

Then it’s on to the postseason.

“I feel like we’re getting into a rhythm and starting to play some real good baseball,” said Nunez, the Arlington Martin product who had two RBIs on Thursday. “I just hope we can keep it rolling.”

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