During the first inning Friday night at Lupton Stadium, it looked as if it was going to be a long night for TCU pitcher Andrew Mitchell. It was a long inning as the right-hander surrendered three runs on three hits and three walks. But Mitchell regrouped and held San Diego State to one hit in the next five innings. He finished with nine strikeouts and six walks, one below his career-high. (Which, incidentally, came at San Diego State April 20.)
The No. 20 Horned Frogs' offense never regrouped, however, and stranded 12 base runners, including five at second base. Aztec pitchers never allowed a runner to third and the Frogs failed to come up with a clutch hit.
“The difference in the game was two-out hits," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "Mitchell set the table and they got two hits [in the first inning]. We had base runners we just couldn’t get two-out hits.”
TCU third baseman Jantzen Witte, who had one of the Frogs' six hits, said Mitchell deserved better.
"Mentally he’s a warrior," Witte said. "He kept working for us and pushing through it. Three runs should still be attainable for us to pick up the win, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
Trey Teakell held the Aztecs to one hit in three innings but the offense never was much threat. Mitchell took the loss and dropped to 5-3.
Derek Odell and Brett Johnson had two hits apiece but the rest of TCU was 2 for 24 Friday. Johnson led off the seventh and ninth innings with singles but he was stranded both times. In the second inning Kevin Cron and Derek Odell led off with walks but Aztec starter Cole Swanson struck out Kyle Von Tungeln and Keaton Jones and forced a ground out to Brett Johnson to escape the jam.
TCU (33-17, 16-6 in the Mountain West) is tied with New Mexico atop the league with two games remaining. The Lobos can clinch a share of the title (and the No. 1 seed in the MWC tournament) with a win Saturday against last-place Air Force. The Frogs have won the MWC outright in all six years in the league. TCU moves to the Big 12 next season. With wins against San Diego State Saturday and Sunday the Frogs would be co-champions with New Mexico.
Preston Morrison (8-0) is scheduled to start for TCU Saturday.
-- Stefan Stevenson