Borrowing a line from the popular parlance of our times, TCU on Saturday declared a War on Adversity.
And for one game, at least, adversity won.
The Horned Frogs lost for a second consecutive game and for the fifth time in their past seven outings after Michigan State used a sterling pitching performance to protect a light-hitting offense, which transformed itself into a replica of the Bronx Bombers.
Michigan State swatted baseballs all over the landscape of Lupton Stadium in a 4-1 nonconference victory.
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Spartans right-hander Mick VanVossen silenced TCU hitters with eight innings of six-hit ball. The Frogs’ Preston Morrison couldn’t counter, failing to protect a one-run lead with control problems that led to three runs in the third and another in the fourth.
“You have to be able to respond to adversity, and I challenged our team to see how they would respond after a tough one on Friday,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said, referring to a 2-1 loss that opened this three-game series.
“We didn’t respond very well.”
VanVossen (3-0), a junior and a 49th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2011, responded to being handed a lead in the third, holding the Frogs (8-6) to three hits and retiring 18 of the final 22 hitters he faced.
Jeff Kinley worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save for the Spartans (7-6).
Morrison (1-2) gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings.
Michigan State entered the series hitting only .231 as a team, with Blaise Salter the only regular hitting over .300.
On Saturday, the Spartans stung TCU pitching for 14 hits, including Salter’s run-scoring double in the fourth that increased his team’s lead to 4-1. The Frogs helped with a throwing error that allowed Anthony Cheky to reach second on a bunt base hit.
“They did a good job against Preston,” Schlossnagle said. “It wasn’t his day, obviously. He wasn’t his normal self, that’s for sure.
“But they got hits, they hit the ball hard on the ground, line drives and we hit too many balls soft in the air.”
TCU scored its lone run in the first. Boomer White scored from third when Kevin Cron’s infield popup fell safely after Spartans first baseman Ryan Krill misplayed the ball.
VanVossen performed well, Schlossnagle said, but “I thought we got a lot of pitches to hit and didn’t do a lot with them. Whether that’s his effectiveness or our ineffectiveness right now … I don’t know.”
The Frogs will take another stab at Michigan State and adversity Sunday as they close their three-game series with the Spartans with a 1 p.m. first pitch.
“Every time you play, you learn more and more about your team, one direction or another,” Schlossnagle said. “So I guess we’ll learn more [Saturday].”