March 19, 2013

TCU edges UT Arlington at Rangers Ballpark

Frogs' Jerrick Suiter and Stefan Crichton take slump-busting steps.

Both TCU and UT Arlington were in dire need of a victory Tuesday night.

The Horned Frogs not only got the 5-4 win in front of 4,015 at Rangers Ballpark, but two important pieces to their roster showed signs of coming out of month-long slumps.

In the fourth inning, Jerrick Suiter belted the first pitch he saw off the wall in left field — just a few inches short of a home run — to drive in two runs and give TCU a 3-2 lead.

It was Suiter’s first RBIs since March 8 and gave him six for the season. Suiter, a major run-producer for the Frogs during their run to the Super Regionals last season, entered the game batting .114 and had been in and out of the lineup while trying to snap out of his struggles at the plate.

“I got fisted a little bit,” said Suiter, who still managed a stand-up double off the wall despite not getting the full barrel on the ball. “I got to second and I didn’t really know what to do. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there.”

Later, Suiter showed further proof of breaking out of his slump by singling to the opposite field in the eighth.

The other important piece was Stefan Crichton’s 2 2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen to earn his first victory of the season. Crichton (1-1) forced two groundouts with the tying run at second against Matt Shortall and Justin Copeland, the Mavericks’ 3 and 4 hitters, to end the fifth.

Crichton entered the game with an ERA over 12.00 after struggling through 7 2/3 innings. He has been a big-game pitcher for TCU (9-11) for two seasons, and under the lights at Rangers Ballpark he came up big again.

“I’ve never had to deal with this kind of adversity,” Crichton said. “It’s been hard but I’ve just been working my way back, grinding, trying to figure stuff out. Being out here in this kind of environment you just kind of have to soak it in. I think that’s what we did.”

UTA (10-10) took a 2-0 lead with runs in the first and second innings against TCU starter Trevor Seidenberger. Keaton Jones scored Cody Jones with a sacrifice fly to pull the Frogs to within 2-1 in the third.

Ryan Walker’s double in the fifth scored Derek Miller to cut TCU’s lead to 4-3 and knocked Seidenberger from the game.

After the Frogs made it 5-3 in the top of the seventh, the Mavericks threatened to tie it up in the bottom half of the inning with Copeland’s two-out double to the right-center gap. Miller came around from second to score, but Shortall was thrown out at the plate after TCU second baseman Paul Hendrix threw a relay strike to catcher Paul Bacak, who took a shot but held onto the ball to end the inning.

“He made a great throw,” UTA coach Darin Thomas said. “We had a couple chances, but they bring good arms in there. They’re tough to score on. That’s a tough team to come back on with the arms they can throw out there. We just didn’t execute a couple things and it cost us.”

Freshman Alex Young, who struggled a bit in Sunday’s loss to Kansas, earned his first career save by closing out the game with two perfect innings.

“To come back in a big-league park and just pound the strike zone for two innings — that’s really good and definitely a win we needed,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “They’re all tough. I’m glad we won one tonight.”

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