The Huskies (0-14) may have drawn first blood with an unearned run in the first inning, but the Frogs quickly took control of the game as TCU (9-4) beat Houston Baptist 7-1 at Lupton Stadium Friday.
Junior pitcher Kyle Winkler pitched for six innings in his fourth straight start. He is now 4-0 for the season. Winkler had 55 strikes on 83 pitches for the night. He has now gone 28 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said Winkler’s pitching was not the most effective it has been for the Frogs, but his pitching for the night still displayed his caliber.
“Anytime you can pitch at not your best and still be dominant that’s a good thing,” Schlossnagle said.
Freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell came in for Winkler in the seventh and went on to close out the game. This was Mitchell’s first career save in which he pitched three scoreless innings.
Mitchell’s pitching showcased his true skill, Schlossnagle said.
“You saw what kind of pitcher he can be when he’s rested,” Schlossnagle said. “When he’s been rested he’s been really good.”
Junior center fielder Brance Rivera, junior left fielder Jason Coats, sophomore third baseman Jantzen Witte, sophomore pinch hitter Kyle Von Tungeln and senior second baseman Jerome Pena racked up the runs for the Frogs in the first game of their three-game series against Houston Baptist. It brought Pena to a 12-game hitting streak and Rivera’s streak to 13 games.
After an eventful first inning, home plate was left lonely for the next three innings as Winkler held Houston Baptist scoreless and the Frogs were unable to make it around the bases.
TCU came back to life in the bottom of the fifth though as senior designated hitter Joe Weik led off with a base hit and was replaced by Von Tungeln. Rivera then doubled down the left field line, putting both runners in scoring position. Witte picked up two RBIs to drive in Rivera and Von Tungeln, bringing the game to 5-1. Witte then scored on a HBU error to put the Frogs up to 6-1.
Overall, Witte pulled in four RBIs in Friday’s performance.
“I’m just trying to do the same thing as usual I was just trying to hit the ball hard on the ground and up the middle of the field and it worked out well for me tonight,” Witte said.
The most action the Huskies would see after their run was a bat thrown into the Horned Frog dugout. First baseman Robbie Buller lost his grip on the bat as it sailed into the TCU dugout while the ball went foul in the opposite direction.
The final run of the night came from Von Tungeln in the eighth as TCU capitalized on the fourth HBU error to take a 7-1 lead.
Winkler said he stayed motivated against a winless Houston Baptist team by keeping things in perspective.
“We know what every game means,” Winkler said. Last year, probably the reason we didn’t host a Super Regional here is because we lost to Air Force twice.”
He added that games against teams that haven’t had successful seasons are just as meaningful as games against highly ranked teams like Cal State Fullerton.
The Frogs will be up against HBU again for game two of the series at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lupton Stadium. Matt Purke is scheduled to be on the mound. The game will be available on GameTracker online.