College Sports

March 9, 2014

TCU breaks out the bats to solve Michigan State

The Horned Frogs salvage the final of a three-game series.

TCU has learned over the first month of the season that it cannot live by arms alone.

And on Sunday at Lupton Stadium, the Horned Frogs knocked the cobwebs off the bats in breaking a two-game losing streak.

Jeremie Fagnan responded to making his first start in six games by going 2 for 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run, home run in the fourth inning as the Frogs took a 6-2 victory over Michigan State.

Kevin Cron, who was No. 3 in the batting order in a reshuffled lineup, had a triple and RBI, all in support of winning pitcher Tyler Alexander and three relievers.

Alexander (2-1), a freshman from Southlake Carroll, pitched six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two strikeouts.

“I’ve been struggling of late but doing everything I could to help the team win,” said Fagnan, a junior college transfer from Midland College. “Fortunately, I got to put some good swings on it today.”

TCU travels to Houston for a game against Rice on Tuesday before returning home for a weekend series against Dartmouth.

The Frogs (9-6) and coach Jim Schlossnagle are hopeful Sunday’s 12-hit attack against the Spartans and starting pitcher Chase Rihtarchik was a breakthrough for an offense that has struggled.

While the TCU pitching has turned in a 2.25 ERA this season — and that includes giving up 10 and nine runs, respectively, against UT Arlington and Sam Houston — the Frogs entered Sunday having scored only 15 runs over the past seven games, including five in a 15-inning victory over Dallas Baptist.

“Considering the situation we put ourselves in the last two weeks, they’re all must wins,” Schlossnagle said. “I feel like your season is on the line every day in college baseball.

“It was important to come out of here with a win.”

Rihtarchik (0-2) took the loss for the Spartans (7-7), who tied the game at 2-2 on Joel Fisher’s two-run home run to the opposite field in right off Alexander.

Michigan State’s Jimmy Pickens followed with a single, but Alexander settled down, retiring seven of the last 10 batters he faced.

“His greatest tool is his presence on the mound,” Schlossnagle said. “He has great composure, he’s mature beyond his years.

“He’s still an out-pitch away from being an elite pitcher, but he made pitches when he had to to get out a really good offensive team.”

Garrett Crain, who had two hits and two runs scored, led off the Frogs’ part of the fourth with a single. Fagnan anticipated a fastball on the first pitch from Rihtarchik and liked it, ripping it down the right-field line.

“I put my best swing on it,” Fagnan said.

Left fielder Boomer White, who hit No. 5 instead of his usual No. 3, also went 2 for 4 for TCU.

“This was huge,” Fagnan said of the win. “Coming back from [Friday and Saturday], obviously is big for us. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

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