TCU opened up its weekend series against Cal State-Fullerton with a 4-1 victory behind strong pitching performances from junior pitchers Kyle Winkler and Erik Miller. Sophomore Kyle Von Tungeln drove in two runs and scored a third to power the Frog’s offense.
Winkler’s second performance of the season was just as dominating as his first. In 7 1/3 innings of work, Winkler allowed a single unearned run and six hits. He struck out two batters and walked another.
Although sophomore Matt Purke is the regular Friday starter and Winkler accustomed to pitching on Saturdays, the day change did not affect Winkler much.
“I’ll pitch any day of the week. As long as it helps us win, I’ll pitch on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,” Winkler said after the game.
TCU drew first blood in the second inning, as junior scored Jason Coats off of senior Jerome Pena’s triple. Von Tungeln laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the inning’s second run and advanced to first after an errant through. However, Titans’ junior pitcher Noe Ramirez worked out of the jam to keep the deficit at two.
The game remained scoreless for the next three innings until the Titans put themselves on the board in the top of the sixth. Fullerton sophomore Anthony Hutting reached base on an error and advanced to second on a Titans’ sophomore Richy Pendroza’s base hit. Sophomore Austin Kingsolver’s bunt landed on the foul line to load the bases and junior Nick Rameriz drove in the Titans’ only run with a sacrifice fly. However, Winkler got out of the jam with the lead intact.
TCU put some distance between itself and Cal State in the seventh. Von Tungeln managed a lead off single and advanced to third on a well executed hit-and-run. Frogs’ junior shortstop Taylor Featherston drove Von Tungeln in on a sacrifice to put the Frogs up two. The throw to home plate on the play missed its mark and Von Tungeln’s bunt ended with runners on second and third with one out. However, Ramirez got out of the jam by making a diving grab on Frogs’ junior Brance Rivera’s bunt to end the inning.
Two Titans got on base to start the eighth inning. Winkler retired his last batter of the night, a Kingsolver sacrifice, before being taken out to a standing ovation from the crowd. Miller game in with five-straight swinging strikes, fanning Rameriz and putting Lopez in an 0-2 hole before grounding out.
The Frogs put the game out of reach in the eighth by converting an error into a run on Von Tungeln’s second RBI of the game. Miller went three up, three down in the top of the ninth to clinch the win and convert the save for TCU. Coach Schlossnagle was upbeat about both of his pitcher’s performances.
“Today, Kyle was just a tick better than Ramirez,” Schlossnagle said. “Those were two future big-leaguers out on the mound today.”
Miller said he credited his breaking ball with helping him get ahead in counts and force groundouts.
The crowd of 5,566 marked the second largest crowd in Lupton Stadium history, trailing only behind this season’s Opening Day attendance. Thus far, all four of TCU’s home games have surpassed the all-time attendance marks set last year.
Up next: Steven Maxwell (0-0) is slated to start Saturday’s game. The first pitch will be at 2 p.m.