UT-Pan American notched eight hits off No. 15 TCU, but Frogs’ junior pitcher Erik Miller (1-5) pitched seven scoreless innings and a UTPA error and an RBI double from sophomore third baseman Jantzen Witte was enough to give TCU a 2-0 victory Tuesday evening at Lupton Stadium.
“All I told the team was to have a really great season you gotta win games in a variety of ways,” head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “And all I know is three weeks ago these were the games we were losing.”
Broncs’ starting pitcher Luis Flores (0-2) only allowed four hits and one earned run in the loss in eight innings pitched, but Flores hit five TCU batters as UTPA fell to 9-9 on the season.
“[Flores] did enough to keep us off balance,” Schlossnagle said. “I thought our pregame batting practice, all of our workouts prior to the game was all good. If you’re sitting in the stands, [it might] make you think we’re lackadaisical…but it’s a crazy game.”
TCU freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell finished the game for TCU (19-9), throwing the final two innings, notching his second save of the season.
Frogs’ junior right fielder Jason Coats started the bottom of the second inning with a lead-off bunt single down the third base line. Witte flied out to left field for the first out of the inning, bringing senior second baseman Jerome Pena to the plate. With a 1-2 count on Pena, Coats reached second on an error from Broncs’ first baseman Angel Ibanez.
TCU sophomore catcher Josh Elander hit a RBI single to center, bringing home an unearned run to put the Frogs up 1-0. Senior first baseman Joe Weik followed the scoring play with a walk to put runners on first and second for sophomore designated hitter Kyle Von Tungeln.
Junior right fielder Brance Rivera struck out to start the third inning — his first of three strike outs on a 0 for 4 evening. Rivera couldn’t extend his 27-game hit streak.
Elander did a somersault to record the second out of the fifth inning on a sky-high pop up from designated hitter Colton Van Komen. Second baseman Roger Bernal singled to right to extend the inning for UTPA but Miller struck out de la Rosa — Miller’s third “K” through five innings of work.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Broncs’ first baseman Alex Carnall hit a single to left to put two runners on with Ibanez at the plate. A soft grounder to Pena to set up a Frogs’ double play to get Miller out of the sixth unscathed.
Flores hit two of his five batters in the sixth inning with a balk on a 1-2 count to Pena sandwiched between the errant throws. Flores then loaded the bases after nicking Pena. With Flores displaying erratic command, he coaxed an infield pop fly from Elander to keep the game at 1-0 going in to the seventh.
Vincent Mejia singled to center to start the seventh inning. UTPA right fielder Stuart Macinnes popped out to Witte for the first out of the inning and the Frogs turned their second double play of the game on a grounder from Van Komen to Witte to end the top of the seventh.
“With Jantzen and Featherston and Pena and Joe we’re very confident when the balls on the ground with a runner on first,” Elander said. “We expect a double play, and it’s nice to see them continue to do that game in and game out.”
Miller’s night would end after seven innings. Freshman Andrew Mitchell came in for Miller, who allowed seven hits and no runs on four strikeouts in a 90-pitch effort.
“Having five games this week, we needed a starting pitcher to go and be out there for a while, and I needed [Miller] to go at least seven, and he did a great job of that,” Schlossnagle said.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning Witte busted the game open with an RBI double off Flores to extend the lead to 2-0 for TCU. Pena flied out to center to end the scoring drive, but an extra run would bode well for the Frogs, who are currently 1-7 on the season in games decided by one run.
Mitchell finished the game for the Frogs, earning his second save of the season on one hit, a walk and two strikeouts.
“It’s a big difference pitching down a run, then it is up a run, and [Mitchell’s] had some opportunities to pitch,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s a lot different when it’s on the line, so I’m glad he got that one out of the way too.”
Rivera’s hit streak ends at 27
Junior right fielder Brance Rivera struck out three times on a 0 for 4 day at the plate. His day at the plate didn’t seem to keep him down, however.
“It was a fun run, I feel very blessed, I had a lot of good games seeing the ball well,” Rivera said. “This is baseball though. I’m not gonna let it get me down, I’m just gonna look forward to an even better second half.”
TCU will play their second-straight game against the Broncs tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. Kyle Starratt (0-0, 4.85 ERA) is slated to face UTPA’s Kyle Kotchie (0-1, 4.85 ERA).
The Frogs continue Mountain West Conference play with a three-game series against New Mexico after the UTPA game. The UNM series will conclude TCU’s 13-game homestand.