The No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs accumulated their 39th win of the season with an 8-2 victory over Air Force Friday night at Lupton Stadium after winning the Mountain West Conference season title hours earlier.
Kyle Winkler was solid in eight innings of work to earn his eighth win of the season. Taylor Featherston tallied three hits in the game and Jason Coats drove in two.
Winkler (8-1) allowed just two runs on nine hits, walked one and struck out six in eight innings. Eric Marshall pitched a perfect ninth inning to seal up the victory. He fanned one batter.
TCU exploded for six runs on six hits and a pair of errors in the first inning to open up a commanding lead. Featherston got the inning rolling with a base hit. Bryan Holaday followed with a single and Matt Curry dropped down a bunt single to load the bases. Alex Truesdale unleashed a wild pitch to plate the first run of the game and Joe Weik reached on an error to make it a 2-0 game. Jason Coats singled to center to drive in Curry for a 3-0 lead.
Josh Elander kept the hit parade going with a base hit through the right side. Aaron Schultz bounced into a double play, but Weik was able to score the fourth run of the contest. Another Falcon error on a ball hit by Jantzen Witte allowed Coats to score and Witte came around on a base hit by Davy Wright for a 6-0 lead.
The Falcons got one of the runs back in the top of the second inning. Garrett Custons singled to open the inning and moved to third on a base hit by Matt Alexander. Matthew Roberts drove in Custons with a single to center to make it a 6-1 contest.
Both pitchers settled in as neither offense mustered much through the middle innings. Winkler worked out of a one out, bases loaded jam in the fifth as he got Blair Roberts to strike out and Addison Gentry to fly out to end the inning without a run scoring.
TCU finally broke through in the fifth, pushing across a run on a hit to make it a 7-1 ballgame. Curry worked a lead-off walk and moved to third on two wild pitches. Coats drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center.
Nathan Carter got a hold of a Winkler offering in the top of the seventh, lining his seventh home run of the season over the left center field wall to bring the Falcons back within five, 7-2.
Curry had an answer for the long ball with one of his own as he drilled the Truesdale pitch over the center field wall. The home run was the 16th of the season for Curry.
TCU improves to 39-10 on the season and 18-4 in league play. The Frogs and the Falcons will square off in game two Saturday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. Steven Maxwell will get the start for the Frogs and face Air Force’s Todd Del Toro.