K-State Falls at No. 19 TCU Saturday


FORT WORTH, Texas – K-State held a three-run lead as the game hit the midway point before No. 19 TCU rattled off 12 unanswered runs in the second half of Saturday’s game, as the Horned Frogs earned a 14-5 win to seal a series victory at Lupton Stadium.

Through four and a half innings, K-State (11-10, 0-2 Big 12) held a 5-2 lead, only to see the Horned Frogs score the next 12 runs over a three-inning span, including an eight-run sixth inning. TCU (17-5, 4-1 Big 12) took advantage of a season-high 11 walks issued by Wildcat pitchers while also getting two home runs from Tommy Sacco.

“We didn’t pitch well enough,” head coach Pete Hughes said after the game. “They’ll take advantage of the walk, and that’s what they did today. I loved the way we started out, but you’ve got to play nine innings. We didn’t pitch well enough or play good enough defense to win a game today.”

In its eight-run inning, Sacco launched a grand slam after two walks sandwiched around a David Bishop single loaded the bases with nobody out. Four Wildcat pitchers combined to issue six walks in the inning, as 13 Frogs came to the plate and the first seven hitters reached base. TCU needed just three hits to score its eight runs.

TCU scored three in the fifth, al coming with two outs, to even the score for a second time, 5-5. Sacco delivered a solo homer and Logan Maxwell added a two-run double. K-State starter Connor McCullough retired the first two Horned Frogs he saw in the inning before Sacco’s first of two bombs. After McCullough hit a batter, his day was done.

In relief of McCullough, Landry Jurecka allowed the first three Frogs to reach, including Maxwell’s double. Jurecka suffered his first collegiate loss after yielding three runs on three hits in recording one out.

Home runs from both Kaelen Culpepper and Dominic Hughes in the fourth inning broke a 2-2 tie and handed the Cats their three-run lead. K-State had scored the game’s first two runs, including an RBI single from Dominic Johnson.

Johnson finished the day 2-for-4 with a walk and a run batted in in extending his hitting streak to 16 games. His streak is the longest by a Wildcat since 2010.

Culpepper and Hughes each connected on the second homers of their respective seasons.

McCullough turned in his shortest start of the year, exiting after 4 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out four, walked four and allowed four earned runs on four hits.

Four Wildcat relievers combined to walk seven hitters and strike out three with 10 runs (nine earned) over 3 1/3 frames.

Sacco finished with six RBI in going 2-for-4. Kurtis Byrne and Maxwell also went 2-for-4 for TCU.

Tommy Vail earned the win after logging two scoreless innings of relief for the Frogs.

The Wildcats equaled their season high in stranding 12 baserunners, finishing 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position (.133).

 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

K-State got its first two hitters on base after Dominic Johnson walked and Hughes singled. After Josh Nicoloff drew a two-out walk, the bases were loaded with two outs before Cam Brown was able to leave the inning without any damage after a threat-ending pop out.

The Cats did break through with two runs in the next inning, highlighted by an RBI single from Johnson, only to see TCU manufacture two runs of its own in the third. Bishop drew a bases-loaded walk before Sacco’s sacrifice fly.

Home runs by Culpepper and Hughes in the fourth reclaimed the lead for the Wildcats. Culpepper lifted a two-run bomb and Hughes added a solo shot two batters later.

Again, the Horned Frogs answered and evened the score in the fifth – all coming with two outs. Sacco homered and Maxwell doubled home two.

Dominic Johnson stood on third with one out after he singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Hughes and advanced to third on a failed pickoff by Vail. K-State was unable to bring home the go-ahead run after Vail retired the next two hitters via a strikeout and groundout.

With an eight-run sixth, TCU broke the game open and led by eight. In the frame, Sacco hit a grand slam and the Frogs benefited from six walks and an error.

 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

  • K-State scored five runs on 10 hits, committed one errors and left 12 on base.
  • TCU scored 14 runs on 11 hits with two errors and stranded 11 baserunners.
  • Three Wildcats produced two-hit games: Hughes, Johnson and Mitchell.
  • Johnson turned in his team-leading 15th multi-hit game.
  • Culpepper and Hughes each homered.
  • The Cats registered double-digit hits for the ninth time in their last 10 games.
  • K-State walked a season-high 11 hitters and struck out seven.
  • McCullough struck out four over 4 2/3 innings, giving up four earned on four hits.
  • The Wildcat bullpen walked seven while striking out three over 3 1/3 innings.
  • Sacco homered twice for TCU, including a grand slam in the sixth.
  • Vail earned the win after logging two scoreless innings of relief for the Frogs.
  • K-State hit .133 with runners in scoring position and equaled its season high of 12 left on base.
  • TCU finished .167 with runners in scoring position and .250 with two outs.

NOTES

  • TCU leads the all-time series 25-12 and is now 16-3 at home.
  • K-State is 0-3 against ranked opponents this season.
  • The Cats are 0-11 in Big 12 play against TCU in Fort Worth.
  • Hughes is 5-6 against the Horned Frogs as the Wildcats’ head coach.
  • Dominic Johnson pushed his hitting streak to 16 games, with multiple hits in 11 of his last 12 games.
  • Johnson’s hitting streak is the longest by a Wildcat since 2010 (25, Adam Muenster).
  • Josh Nicoloff’s on-base stretch reached 16 games.
  • Cole Johnson’s 13-game on-base streak was snapped.
  • The Wildcats have lost three straight games for the first time since starting the season 0-5.

 
UP NEXT
K-State and TCU conclude the weekend series Sunday at 1 p.m. The contest can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. Radio coverage can be heard on News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) with free, live audio is also available at K-StateSports.com/Watch.