Traver dominated the Blue Devils all night en route to his fourth win of the year. He struck out a season-high nine batters while allowing just one run on one hit and two walks through seven innings.
“Obviously the number one job is to go out and give your team a chance to win,” Traver said. “Anytime you can pitch deep into a ballgame, especially the first game of a regional, you feel good about that.”
Traver held the Blue Devils hitless through four innings behind six strikeouts, before running into the first trouble of the night in the fifth.
A leadoff error on Connor Wanhanen at first, followed by a slow roller to left put two Blue Devils on base with no outs. After a fly out, Traver induced the first of two double plays in the game to escape the inning and strand the runner on third.
Traver came out for the eighth inning but a leadoff walk chased him from the game. Cal Coughlin entered in relief and got the first two batters out, but a two-out RBI double by nine-hole hitter Nick Landell broke up the shutout and cost Traver a scoreless outing.
“I was upset that I walked the first batter of the eighth on four pitches,” Traver said. “That wasn’t ideal. I didn’t put Cal in a good situation, but he came in and did his job.”
Traver’s outing moved his career home postseason numbers to 23 innings pitched, one run, eight walks and 23 strikeouts.
The Frogs’ offense made noise in the first inning as Austen Wade walked to open the game and was on second when Cam Warner drove a single to right field, but a bullet to the plate from CCSU’s Franklin Jennings kept TCU off the board.
CCSU starter Brendan Smith did not allow the first run of the game until the bottom of the fifth when a leadoff walk, a stolen base, a throwing error and a run scoring double by Josh Watson put the Frogs in front.
Nolan Brown provided cushion to the lead in the sixth when he laced a two-out single up the middle to bat in Evan Skoug who reached on a walk and Cam Warner who singled the at bat before.
“Kind of just staying with the opposite field approach,” Brown said of his thought process before his hit. “That lefty was battling and giving us a tough time and he was throwing a lot of breakers. I was trying to sit on a breaker and on a fastball, just let my hands work to it. I was just trying to stay up the middle.”
Smith, making what likely is the last start of his career, battled through six innings giving up just three runs on four hits.
“Outstanding,” CCSU coach Charlie Hickey said of Smith’s outing. “It’s something that Brendan’s worked awfully hard for, and I’m guessing that those memories are going to last a long time.”
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle Schlossnagle knew coming in to not overlook the Blue Devil’s starting pitcher.
“My biggest concern coming in to this game is when you face a senior left-handed pitcher who has been around the block like he has, he’s going to be competitive,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s going to make pitches, and he’s going to be better than he maybe was in the regular season. That’s exactly what we got.”
After the Blue Devils’ scored a run to make it 3-1, TCU broke the game wide open in the bottom of the eighth. Wade doubled, Zach Humphreys singled and Skoug hit a three-run line drive over the fence in right to make it 6-1. The homer was Skoug’s 17th of the year, the most by a Horned Frog since Matt Curry hit 17 in TCU’s Cinderella run to the College World Series in 2010.
Elliott Barzilli pushed the lead to 8-1 just three batters later on a two-run double. The hit ended an 0-3 night and extended his hot streak that started in the Big 12 Tournament a week ago when he went 9-19 at the plate.
TCU scored its final run of the game when Watson hit his second RBI double of the game. Coming into the game with the lowest batting average among Horned Frog starters, the switch-hitter doubled from both sides of the plate and just missed his first home run two different times.
CCSU used five hits, two errors and a walk to rally from the 9-1 deficit in the top of the ninth against Jake Eissler to put the tying run at the plate, but Durbin Feltman came in to pick up his 16th save on a strikeout to close out a 9-6 win.
“I thought Jake did a good job; he walked one guy but he threw strikes,” Schlossnagle said. “He certainly left some balls up, and we had a couple errors to go along with it. Nobody at this time is going to cash in down 9-1. I hope if we are in that situation we don’t, and Central Connecticut certainly didn’t.”
The Fort Worth Regional continues on Sunday as the Blue Devils will have to play Dallas Baptist at noon, while the Horned Frogs will match up with Virginia at 4 p.m.
Jared Janczak will get the start against the Cavaliers. Virginia will be the home team against the Horned Frogs.
“It’s going to be a ridiculously awesome game and incredibly talented players with big leaguers all over the field,” Schlossnagle said. “Our guys will be ready to play. Whether we play well or not, I don’t know, but it is going to be an awesome experience.”