No. 15 TCU scored two runs in the ninth inning and to put away the Air Force Falcons 3-2 and the Frogs improved to 17-9 overall and 4-1 in Mountain West Conference play. TCU was able to win a one-run game for the first time this season after losing seven one-run games on the season.
Sophomore pitcher Matt Purke (3-1) went eight innings allowing two runs and six hits in a no decision. Freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell (2-0) took over in the ninth and was credited with the win.
Stephen Colangelo (0-1) was credited with the loss for Air Force.
“This is what they look for every year, coming to play us,” Purke said. “They play us harder than anybody we’ve ever seen. It was a tight game but it’s really good for us.”
TCU and Air Force combined for five hits in the first three innings but Air Force was able to get on the board in the fourth inning on an unearned run.
Falcons’ designated hitter Jon McMahon was on second base when right fielder Patrick Lobo hit a single to center field. TCU had a chance to hold McMahon at third but a fielding error by junior center fielder Aaron Schultz allowed the score.
Neither team was able to take advantage of having men in scoring position early in the game. In the second inning, Air Force led off with a pair of singles. After Jon McMahon was hit by a pitch, the Falcons had the bases loaded. The Frogs ended the inning with double play from second to first base, leaving all three runners stranded.
Sophomore catcher Josh Elander had a double to right field to open the fifth inning but he was left stranded when the next three batters came up empty. The sixth inning saw junior left fielder Jason Coats stranded after he hit a double to right field.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the eighth inning when junior right fielder Brance Rivera was able to score for the Frogs.
The rally began when Rivera hit a lead-off single and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt by Schultz. Featherson followed the bunt with a single to right field. Rivera made it easily to third and sprinted home to beat the throw. Featherson advanced to second on the throw but was left stranded to end the inning.
Air Force didn’t take long to answer the Frogs score. McMahon opened the ninth inning with a solo home run off Purke to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
Head Coach Jim Schossanlagle said the team was ready to go after the home run by McMahon.
“I just felt like we gotta grit our teeth again and go right back at ‘em,” Schlossnagle said.
Senior second baseman Jerome Pena opened the ninth inning with a single and advanced to second on a pitch that went through the catcher’s legs. Senior first baseman Joe Weik singled to left field, allowing Pena to get to third base. Elander then won the game in the with a double to left field to bring home Pena and Weik.
“I just told the team I don’t know if I’ve been around a team that deserved to win a game like that more than this one after what we’ve been through and we aren’t even at the halfway point of the season,” Schlossnagle said.
The game lasted 2 hours and 11 minutes in front of a crowd of 4,195.
TCU finishes up their three game series with Air Force on Sunday. The first pitch will be thrown at 1 p.m. Steven Maxwell (3-0, 3.60 ERA) will go against Michael CeCi (2-3, 3.76 ERA) on the mound in the rubber match.