Fresh off a successful trip out west, the road weary Frogs returned to the friendly confines of Lupton Stadium Friday night to open up conference play against the rival Bears, and with Mitchell Traver on the mound...
The game started slowly for the Frogs, while Traver was mowing down Bears to the tune of seven straight outs to open play, the offense was a bit out of sorts, with only a couple of singles to speak of through the first two innings. Thankfully, the aforementioned Traver didn't need much early help, as he brought his good stuff in the mound in his second straight Friday night start, a role he appears to have locked up. Trevor pitched around a third inning single, closing the top half of the frame with a "strike em out throw em out" play to get out of any potential trouble. Facing the minimum through three defensively, the Frogs went in to the bottom half of the third looking to make some noise. With a leadoff walk issued to Jeremie Fagnan, a passed ball allowing him to take second, and a Dane Steinhagen single putting runners at the corners with nobody out, Cody Jones came up in a big spot, and as he is prone to do, delivered - with an RBI infield single that he hustled down the line to ensure got him on base. Connor Wanhanen would try and bunt the runners over, but the BU D would make their first mistake of the night, picking up a ball that seemed destined to go out of bounds and throwing it wide of the bag, allowing all runners to be safe. Derek Odell came up next and hit in to a double play (his third of the young season), but it did allow another run to cross the plate. Evan Skoug would leave Jones stranded at third and end the inning on a grounder to first base, and TCU would take just a 2-0 lead, despite having loaded the bases with nobody out to start the ending.
Traver would allow a leadoff single to open the fourth inning, but would erase the base runner with a nice pickoff move that caught him stranded. He would strike out the next two batters, and the Bears would go quietly through four, with Traver having faced the minimum despite giving up two singles. In the bottom half, Garrett Crain led off the inning with a single, as the Frog O seemed to be finding it's groove. Nolan Brown grounded in to a fielder's choice, but did well to beat out the throw at first on a nice play by the BU shortstop. Every time it seemed TCU was about to break things open, the BU D made a play, but they continued to chip away - and thus is the luxury of having one of, if not the, best staffs in the nation - you don't need to put a ton of runs on the board to give yourself a chance to win.
The Bears would open the fifth with yet another leadoff hit, a single by super soph Aaron Dodson. Traver would get a fly out by Ducoff for the first out of the inning, and after issuing a rare walk - only his third of the season - the Frog D would come through with a big double play to end the inning and the threat. Traver continued to play with fire, but used the ice water in his veins to put out every hint of a BU spark. Another error in the bottom half of the fifth would put Dane Steinhagen on to lead off the inning, then Cody Jones used a perfect bunt to move him over, and beat out the throw to put two on with nobody out for Wanhanen. Steinhagen would be thrown out on an attempted steal at third, but Jones advanced on the throw to get to second. Wanhanen would move him to third on a weak grounder, bringing Derek Odell to the plate with a chance for redemption after hitting in to double plays on his previous two at bats - he would put a good swing on a ball, but the fly out stranded Jones at third and TCU would move to the sixth holding on to their 2-0 lead.
Traver would deliver a perfect top of the sixth, striking out the Bear's lead off hitter to close the frame. TCU would bring up the heart of their order in the bottom of the sixth, looking to extend their lead and cage the Bears for good on this Friday night. Evan Skoug found himself on base and was sacrificed over to second by Nolan Brown, setting Keaton Jones up for an RBI opportunity - and as the Jones' do, he came through with the RBI single to push the lead to three. Fagnan would strike out to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Dodson would once again be a force, hitting a two out home run against Traver in the top of the seventh, to put the Bears on the board. With Trey Teakell getting loose in the bullpen, Mitchell would limit the damage getting a pop up to end the inning. A Cody Jones single - his fourth hit of the game - would force a BU pitching change, and Connor Wanhanen would sacrifice him over on a grounder to first, bringing up Derek Odell with a runner in scoring position for the fourth time in the game. Odell, who sat Tuesday and has been struggling (one for his last 18 at bats) would watch Cody Jones steal third and open up the opportunity for a slump busting RBI. After a long conference at the mound, Odell would fly out to left field, and fall to 1 for his last 19. Derek will start hitting again - he's to smart and patient of a hitter not to - but in order for this team to reach its' full potential, his bat needs to produce in the middle of the lineup.
Teakell would come on to pitch the eighth, relieving Traver who had another exceptional game, going seven strong and giving up just the one run on four hits, with six strike outs and a single walk. Teakell would get a quick pop up to the first base side before walking Justin Arrington, and the Bears were threatening once again with one on and one out. Trey would get a BU pinch hitter, freshman Cameron Esthay, to strike out, and pulled the string on a ball on the outside corner to get the next batter looking. Skoug would reach on an error to open the bottom of the eighth, as the first baseman dropped the ball, but would get caught stealing two pitches later - when the catcher is attempting steals, I don't even know what to say (but that was the first time he has been caught, so what do I know) - and the inning would end on what looked like a blown call at first on a Nolan Brown grounder to deep second. Which would set up the moment we all love... Riley Ferrell jogging out to the mound.
La Flama would come out sporting a 1.17 ERA and 11 strikeouts on the season, having allowed a single run on a single hit so far this season. Ferrell would look for his sixth save on the year, facing the top of the order for the Bears. Riley would face Logan Brown to start the inning, and with the radar guns of many trained on him, induce a pop up to shallow right. West Tunnell was the next man up, and Riley blew him away with some heavy, hard heat, striking him out looking (and looking lost at that). The final batter of the frame would have nothing to show for his effort, as the second weak pop up to right was easily hauled in by Nolan Brown, ending the game and notching save number six.
Mitchell Traver was your winner, having allowed only one run on four hits. Teakell pitched around a walk in the eighth but was never in danger, and Ferrell came in and did Ferrell things, crushing the hopes and dreams of the three batters he faced.
The Bears fall to 6-10 on the season, while the Frogs take a 12-2 record in to Saturday's game. Preston Morrison will be on the mound for TCU, looking to shut down the Bear O once again.