Friday night’s clash between TCU and Florida Atlantic looked like it would be a battle between two strong sophomore right-handers, but it turned out to be a one-man show.TCU’s Jake Arrieta turned in a masterful performance to lead the No. 21 Frogs over FAU and preseason All-American pitcher Mickey Storey 5-1 at Lupton Stadium.
Arrieta, who has four of TCU’s seven wins this season, struck out a career-high 13 Owls in eight scoreless innings allowing two hits and walking two.
“I was throwing (my slider) for strikes all eight innings, and when a pitcher can do that he’s going to be successful,” Arrieta said. “Most of the time pitchers can’t throw their off-speed for strikes as much as they can their fastball, and I was able to do that tonight.”
Owl hitters flailed desperately at Arrieta offerings all night but could do little against the big right-hander. Only one FAU runner reached third base against Arrieta, but did so only with the help of two balks with one out in the sixth inning. Arrieta quickly put that threat to bed getting the Owls two- and three-hitters to strike out swinging.
“I knew I was going to go out there and throw strikes with my breaking ball,” Arrieta said. “I’ve been working with that all week, and the hard work you put in adds up to what you do in the game.”
Storey, on the other hand, ran into trouble early in what turned out to be his second loss of the season.
Third baseman Matt Carpenter staked the Frogs to an early lead when he blasted a two-strike fastball down the right-field line for a two-run home run in the second inning. Designated hitter Matt McGuirk, who started the frame with a line-drive single into right, scored on the play.
“With a guy like Storey,” said Carpenter, who finished the game 1 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs, “you got to jump ahead of him early. When you get in the situation where you can take advantage of some timely hits and get some runs, you got to do that. We did that tonight when we could, and it turned out good for us.”
The Frogs didn’t give Storey any time to recover from Carpenter’s shot, adding to their tally in the third on a two-run double down the left-field line by catcher Andrew Walker. TCU added an unearned run in the sixth with the help of two errors, a balk and a wild pitch.
FAU threatened in the ninth, pushing across an unearned run and loading the bases against TCU freshman right-hander Taylor Cragin. But left-hander Omar Arif, who has been TCU’s best option out of the bullpen this season, came on with two outs and the tying run at the plate to induce a weak ground ball and record his first save of the season.
Storey allowed all five of TCU’s runs, four earned, on seven hits and three walks while striking out seven. The loss dropped him to 2-2 on the season and bumped his ERA from 2.59 to 3.79.
But the game’s real story was Arrieta, who moved to 4-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 1.05.
Arrieta racked up 122 pitches in eight innings of work, but TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said it’s always hard to take the chance to throw a complete-game shutout away from a pitcher.
“It’s real hard any time when you know they’re not sniffing him,” Schlossnagle said, “but we’re not going to be a very good club if we can’t have somebody other than our starters get three outs before they get five runs.