It’s scary to think what No. 14 TCU baseball’s record would be without the stellar pitching that they have gotten from freshman pitchers this year.
Freshman Andrew Mitchell started on Tuesday night for the Frogs and in six innings gave up one earned run. He struck out five Bobcats and walked one batter in an 88 pitch effort. Mitchell began the year on opening night throwing 94 mph heat.
“We saw Mitchell’s best stuff when the lights came on,” head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Mitchell has continued that success and secured his role as the regular Tuesday starter for Schlossnagle’s squad. Tuesday evening Mitchell was relieved by fellow freshman Stefan Chrichton (2-1). He retired three batters in a row in the sixth inning and stranded a Bobcat runner on first base that was credited to Mitchell.
An error by Texas State third baseman Kyle Kubitza allowed TCU to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh, and Crichton retired the Bobcats in order and handed the ball to TCU junior closer Erik Miller, who earned his fifth save.
“My little sinker thing was working,” Crichton said. “It gets ground ball outs…That is my best pitch right now.”
Mitchell said he felt great after the game.
“I would have stayed out there as long as they’d let me,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had three starts now, and I am still learning. There is always stuff I can continue to learn.”
As TCU’s offense has been hit or miss for the majority of the season and as sophomore ace pitcher Matt Purke has not been able to dominate while he has battled a blister on his throwing hand, Mitchell and Chrichton have picked up all the slack and more.
Really, fans are seeing a glimpse of what the future looks like for Schloss’s Frogs. Purke will most likely opt to pitch in the minor leagues after this season. Senior pitcher Steven Maxwell will graduate, and junior pitcher Kyle Winkler may flirt with the MLB Amateur Draft as well. If two of three TCU weekend starters leave the team, Schlossnagle will have the unenviable task of replacing such dominant starters.
His hope is that Mitchell and Crichton will be there to step in. If the returns from the two freshman this season are any indication, they’ll be ready to shine next season.
TCU will take on University of Houston this weekend in games two through four of their 13-game homestand. Having won three straight ball games, Schlossnagle hopes to continue the streak.
“It has seemed like we have been playing good baseball all season, but the game of baseball has just been beating us lately,” Schlossnagle said.
Alex Apple is a freshman journalism and political science double major from Nashville, Tenn. and a writer for SportDFW.com.