On a steamy evening at Olsen Field, TCU freshman pitcher Andrew Mitchell sucked the life out of an Aggie crowd that left it with plenty of potential “whoops” in the reserve tank.
No. 11 TCU (26-11) handled No. 6 Texas A&M 4-2 off Mitchell’s two-hit, no earned runs performance. Mitchell’s third win of the season stretched TCU’s win streak to four games.
“Getting spanked in Norman by OU obviously left a taste in our mouth,” sophomore catcher Josh Elander said. “I was reading today we haven’t won here since …all the games are just as important, but obviously you are going to be ready for this one.”
Brandon Parrent (1-4) would record the loss for the Aggies, who fell to 26-11 on the season. A&M tallied four hits and stranded four runners on the night.
Elander knocked a solo shot over the center field wall with one out in the second inning to put TCU up 1-0. It was Elander’s first homer of the season. Junior designated hitter Zac Jordan would strike out swinging and senior second baseman Jerome Pena would fly out to center to end the top of the second inning.
Aggies’ catcher Kevin Gonzalez hit a dribbler down the first baseline for an RBI infield out, tying the game 1-1 in the second inning. Mitchell walked Aggies’ second baseman Charlie Curl, prompting a discussion on the mound. Mitchell picked off Curl, however, to end the inning.
With the balls carrying well on a balmy, breezy evening, Jordan jacked his second home run of the season over the left field wall to give the Frogs a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning. Frogs’ sophomore third baseman Jantzen Witte hit out the third homer of the night on a 2-1 count for the Frogs to put TCU up 3-1 in the sixth inning.
Witte’s blast was enough for Parrent’s night to be over. He would finish the night allowing six hits and three runs while tallying four K’s. Kyle Martin would take the mound for A&M.
Mitchell’s stellar night would end in the bottom half of the sixth after 5 2/3 innings pitched. After hitting A&M right fielder Tyler Naquin on a full count, walking center fielder Krey Bratsen and getting first baseman Jacob House to line out to right field, Mitchell would head back to the dugout allowing only two Aggie hits and no earned runs with four K’s. Senior Trent Appleby would finish the sixth inning for TCU on two pitches.
“For me, the biggest thing was a guy like Mitchell and [freshman pitcher Stefan] Crichton getting experience in this atmosphere,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “It’s the closest thing [to a playoff atmosphere] probably that we’ll play the rest of the season until we get to a Regional or Super Regional.”
The Aggie crowd would not be silenced the entire game. In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, Naquin doubled to right field. With train tracks lining the outfield walls, the Aggie offense picked up steam just as the nightly locomotive rolled past the ballpark. Bratsen smacked an RBI triple over the head of Frogs’ junior center fielder Aaron Schultz to cut the TCU lead to 3-2.
Junior Erik Miller would replace Appleby with a runner on third and with two outs. Appleby would end the night having allowed two runs and a run in two innings of work. Miller, working with a full count on House and with a stomping and hollering crowd, got House to ground out to TCU senior first baseman Joe Weik to end the eighth.
Frogs’ junior shortstop Taylor Featherston singled to right field to start the ninth inning. Junior left fielder Jason Coats hit an RBI single with no outs to bring Featherston home, padding the TCU lead to 4-2.
Crichton would come in to the game in the bottom of the ninth to notch his second save of the season.
“For those guys to perform the way they did, you don’t want to underestimate it, but you expect it from Appleby and Miller — they’ve been there,” Schlossnagle said. “But for Mitchell and Crichton, it’s pretty fun to watch.”
The Frogs will return to Fort Worth to play a three-game series against conference foe UNLV. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Purke out indefinitely
Schlossnagle said sophomore pitcher Matt Purke (4-1, 1.55 ERA) will be out indefinitely due to tendonitis in his throwing shoulder.
“My guess is the best-case scenario will be [Purke] takes two or three weeks off and restart, and may be ready last week of the year or the conference tournament,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s gone over and above to fight through this for our team, and it’s really important that this time, Matt thinks about Matt. There are a lot of elite pitchers like him who, at this time, would have been very selfish and not picked up a ball.”