Baseball team continues conference play at home

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    The TCU baseball team plays Air Force tonight in the first of a three-game set at Lupton Stadium. The Horned Frogs (17-13 overall, 6-3 Mountain West) face the Falcons (8-22, 3-6) for their fourth Mountain West series of the year. Here are some news and notes for this weekend’s games:

    Mitchell back to Friday night role

    Right-hander Andrew Mitchell is scheduled to get the start for TCU tonight, returning — at least temporarily — to his original role as the Frogs’ Friday night starter. Mitchell is coming off his best start of the season after throwing 6.2 scoreless innings and striking out 10 UNC-Wilmington batters last week. 

    Mitchell, who had struggled prior to that start, looked back to his old form against the Seahawks, throwing consistently in the low-90s, topping out at 94 mph and working the corners of the zone like the strikeout pitcher he was most of last season.

    Stefan Crichton, normally TCU’s Friday night starter, is scheduled to throw Sunday after pitching Wednesday night against UT-Arlington.

    Last time out

    The Frogs beat UTA 5-1 Wednesday night. Crichton made a rare mid-week start, throwing four innings and giving up just one earned run while striking out four. Brandon Finnegan earned the victory, throwing two scoreless innings in relief. True freshman Kevin Cron hit his first career home run, a solo shot to left field in the sixth inning that broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Frogs the lead for good. 

    TCU’s win over the Mavs (21-13) was crucial not only because it extended the Frogs’ winning streak to three games, but also because UTA was coming off a 3-2 win over No. 2 Texas A&M on Tuesday night.

    Evans bolsters bullpen

    Freshman Travis Evans made his career debut Wednesday night, throwing the first two outs of the ninth inning before Kaleb Merck came in to close the game. Evans is a crafty, high-80s lefty who can touch 90 mph and works down in the zone. 

    Schlossnagle pointed out Evans could have been a bit more accurate with his breaking ball, but the Round Rock native’s ability to remain composed his first time on a college mound, albeit in a non-pressure situation, was impressive. Evans’ arrival is timely, too.

    Fellow freshman Preston Morrison made his first start of the season last Saturday against UNC-Wilmington, getting the win after throwing 8.2 innings and giving up just two runs. Morrison (1.35 ERA) likely will stay in that role after throwing 38 innings of relief prior starting against the Seahawks. Evans probably will not be thrown into a long relief role for now like Morrison was in, but he adds another arm from the left side of the bullpen.

    TCU’s relief unit has been solid, shutting out the Mavs on Wednesday night and extending its scoreless streak to 8.2 innings dating back to April 6 against UNC-Wilmington.

    Finnegan, Justin Scharf, Kevin Allen, Evans and Merck all saw action Wednesday night. Allen, usually the Frogs’ seventh or eighth inning guy, threw the final out of the eighth inning and lowered his team-low ERA to 0.46.

    Coats questionable

    Schlossnagle said he’s unsure if left fielder Jason Coats will play Friday night. Coats missed Wednesday night’s game with an oblique injury. The senior, who’s hitting .297 on the season, had played in 135 consecutive games. TCU vs. Air Force

    Game 1

    When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

    Where: Lupton Stadium

    Starters: Andrew Mitchell (3-2, 3.82 ERA) vs. Cameron White (2-5, 4.18 ERA)

    Game 2

    When: 4 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Lupton Stadium

    Starters: Preston Morrison (4-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. Ben Bertelson (0-6, 6.75)

    Game 3

    When: 1 p.m. Sunday

    Where: Lupton Stadium

    Starters: Stefan Crichton (4-0, 3.12 ERA) vs. Evan Abrecht (3-1, 2.96)

    Radio: KTCU-FM 88.7

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