TCU pitcher Andrew Mitchell was back where he belonged Friday night.
Not only was he the Horned Frogs' Friday night starter again for the first time since March 2, but he pitched like it as well.
Mitchell struck out a career-high 13 batters and limited Air Force to three hits through seven innings as TCU won Game 1 of the three-game Mountain West series 5-0 in front of 4,196 at Lupton Stadium.
Preston Morrison (4-0) makes his second start at 4 p.m. today against Falcons left-hander Ben Bertelson (0-6).
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TCU (18-13, 7-3 in the MWC) has won four in a row after losing seven of its previous 10 games.
"I think we're playing with more confidence now," said Mitchell, who improved to 4-2. "Balls are starting to fall and we're starting to put more runs up, and playing really good defense. When we pitch, with those two, it's hard to lose."
Freshmen Jerrick Suiter and Kevin Cron each had two-out, RBI singles in the first inning to give the Frogs a 2-0 lead. Kyle Von Tungeln's two-out RBI in the second scored Davy Wright to make it 3-0.
"Those two-out hits are big, especially early in the game to give our pitchers a little more relief," Cron said.
In the third, Josh Elander, Cron, and Derek Odell led off with consecutive doubles to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Meanwhile, Mitchell brushed off two first-inning hits and baffled the Falcons (8-23, 3-7) for most of the night. He retired 10 consecutive batters until hitting a batter in the fourth. He walked the next batter to put two on, but struck out Tyler Saleck to end the inning. Mitchell reloaded and retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, repeatedly using a nasty breaking ball that dove into the dirt. An error allowed the lone batter in the stretch to reach base.
"He mixed his pitches well and made good pitches when he had to," coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "He looked like the dominant Friday night starter that he's supposed to be."
Mitchell has 27 strikeouts and hasn't allowed a run in his last 19 innings.
"I was able to locate my curveball pretty well, I was able to bury it if I needed it for a strikeout," he said. "I made some mistakes they didn't capitalize on."