Frogs’ freshman pitcher Nick Frey (1-0) earned his first career collegiate victory for No. 15 TCU, and junior center fielder Aaron Schultz drove in two runs to give the Frogs a 5-1 win over University of Texas-Pan American on Wednesday evening at Lupton Stadium.
It was TCU’s fifth straight win and its eighth in 10 games, but Frey’s first career start wasn’t planned — Kyle Starratt was slated as the probable starter for the game.
“”Starratt came down with a sprain in his elbow yesterday. We don’t think it is serious, but it means seven to 10 days of not picking up a ball,”” head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “”We had a couple guys who had pitched some for us, but they hadn’t pitched great. A guy like Nick [Frey] has been pitching better than those guys in practice, but we didn’t want to burn his red shirt unless we felt like we really needed him.
We went ahead and decided once Starratt was out, we would run Nick out there.””
TCU (20-9) took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning and never trailed, and freshman pitcher Stefan Crichton finished the game for TCU. Broncs’ starting pitcher Kyle Kotchie pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits as UT-Pan American fell to 9-10 on the season.
Senior second baseman Jerome Pena walked to start the bottom of the third with senior first baseman Joe Weik at the plate. Weik grounded into a double play, but Kotchie drilled senior catcher Jimmy Pharr to put a runner on first with junior right fielder Brance Rivera at the plate.
Rivera, who said he was looking forward to an even better second half of the season after ending his 27-game hit streak last night, bunted a single down the third-base line. Broncs’ third baseman Vincent Mejia failed to get a good barehand grip on the ball and didn’t get a throw off to first base.
Schultz knocked in a two-RBI double to give the Frogs a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Junior shortstop Taylor Featherston flied out to left to end the scoring threat.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Broncs’ first baseman Angel Ibanez singled to left, but junior left fielder Jason Coats let the ball go through his legs for an error. Ibanez was caught in a rundown in an attempt to steal third, but with two outs, Mejia knocked a shot off the left field wall for a double.
Frey showed poise in his first career start, striking out Broncs’ catcher Mike McCarthy for his second strikeout of the game to end the top of the fourth inning.
“”They hinted I might start last night, I had it on my mind though,”” Frey said. “”They told me after team meetings today, and it was definitely a surprise. I was so surprised I didn’t even think to tell my parents until it was too late…””
Coats singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and sophomore Zac Jordan hit an RBI single just past the reach of Broncs’ second baseman Roger Bernal to bring Coats home and put the Frogs up 3-0 with one out. Pena hit into another double play to end the inning.
Frey, who was on a limited pitch count, tossed four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out two. Senior pitcher Trent Appleby took the mound for the Frogs to start the fifth inning.
“”I think the story of the last two nights has been outstanding starting pitching from two guys who weren’t even projected starters coming into this season, along with great defense,”” Schlossnagle said. “”We had one error tonight, but I thought we played really good defense in the infield.””
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, UT-Pan American’s Zach Zouzalik came in for Kotchie. Rivera brought Weik home with an RBI single and reached second base on a throwing error to put TCU up 4-1.
Weik tagged an RBI single in the sixth to left field to stretch TCU’s lead to 5-1, which would remain the final score.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Duffie entered the game for the Frogs in the eighth inning. Appleby ended the night with three hits and an earned run in three innings pitched.
Crichton would finish the game for the Frogs, going two innings with two strikeout.
“”It seems like at the beginning of the year, everything we hit was being caught, whether it was hard or soft,”” Schultz said.
“”Today to get my hit to fall was lucky, but it scored a couple runs and put us on the board, and we got rolling from there.””
The Frogs will conclude their season-longest 13-game homestand with a three-game series against MWC opponent New Mexico. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Coats extended his hit streak to nine games.
Witte reached base safely for the 15th consecutive game and also stretched his hitting streak to six games.
UT-Pan American scored a single run in 18 innings against the Frogs.