TCU used a seven-run inning to blow open their Saturday matchup against Utah and weathered a late storm, cruising to an 8-5 victory over the Utes.
Andrew Mitchell picked up the win by going 7.1 innings, fanning nine and throwing a workhorse 123 pitches. The game was the Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Out game benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and featured an appearance by American Idol contestant Tim Halperin.
The win brings the Frogs within one victory of clinching a regular season conference championship. After a scoreless first, TCU jumped out to a seven-run lead in the bottom of the second. Von Tungeln batted in Pena off a long sacrifice fly to put runners on the corners with two outs.
Brance Rivera’s soft single past short sparked a two out rally that scored six runs. Witte and Coats drove in runs of their own with singles and then Josh Elander scored the trio with a home run. He took a 3-2 pitch deep for his fourth home run of the season. The inning was the end for starting pitcher Brock Duke, forcing the Utes to resort to their bullpen early on.
Utah grabbed one back in the third off of a single, an error, and a groundout. However, TCU scored in the fourth to maintain their lead. Elander and Weik reached base on a hit by pitch and single, and then Featherston’s single up the middle made the margin 8-1.
In the sixth, Austin Shackleford hit a two-run homerun to close the gap to 8-3. Utah star CJ Cron almost hit a two run home run. It would have been his 15th of the year but Brance Rivera jumped over the rightfield wall and robbed it.
Trent Appleby came in to relieve Andrew Mitchell in the 8th inning and forced an inning-ending double play. Coming into the ninth, Coach Schlossnagle put in Tony Rizzotti on the mound but moved Trent Appleby to rightfield to retain his eligibility to play. Rizzotti got two outs but worked his way into a jam. He gave up a pair of runs and loaded the bases, bringing up CJ Cron to represent the tying run. TCU made the decision to pitch around Cron, intentionally walking in a run to prevent a possible game-tying grand slam.
Afterwards, Elander said he agreed with the decision.
“After we walked him, he would have had to tie the game by scoring off a double or a triple instead of being able to homer.”
Shaun Cooper grounded out in the next at bat, giving Appleby his first save of the year.
After the game, Coach Schlossnagle remarked that no game seems to come easy for this TCU team. However, with several pitchers hoping to come back in time for the conference tournament, the Frogs can only hope that the trial by fire that this season has proven to be can strengthen the team.