Mitchell Traver struck out nine in the first seven innings, Evan Skoug hit a three-run homer and Nolan Brown drove in two runs to power TCU in a 9-6 victory against Central Connecticut State in the opening round of the Fort Worth Regional in a game that ended after midnight Saturday because of a second day of rain.
Traver (4-1), a senior right-hander, won as the NCAA postseason opening pitcher for TCU for a third consecutive season. He defeated Sacred Heart in 2015 and Oral Roberts last season, allowing no runs in either start.
He exited after a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, and it scored on a two-out double against Cal Coughlin. The run charged to Traver was his first allowed in four appearances (three starts) covering 23 innings in NCAA postseason play at Lupton.
The Horned Frogs (43-16) advanced to a winner’s bracket game against Virginia at 4 p.m. Sunday, but had to use closer Durbin Feltman for the final out after Jake Eissler surrendered five runs in the ninth inning, although only two earned because of two errors in the inning. It was Feltman’s 16th save.
Central Connecticut State (36-21) will play an elimination game against Dallas Baptist at noon Sunday, with that winner moving to an 8 p.m. Sunday game against the TCU-Virginia loser.
With two on and no out in the eighth inning, Skoug greeted reliever Jared Gallagher with his 17th home run, a drive over the right-field fence for a 6-1 lead. It scored Austen Wade, who had doubled, and Zach Humphreys, who had singled. After a single and a walk, Elliott Barzilli’s double made it an 8-1 lead for TCU.
Brown, declared healthy for the weekend after passing concussion tests following a hit to the head in a collision at the Big 12 tournament, bounced a 2-1 pitch past a dive at second base with two out in the sixth inning for a 3-0 lead. Skoug was aboard after getting hit for the second time in the game, and Warner had singled and reached second on a throwing error.
Brown proved effective in the field, also, with two strong defensive plays in center while the game was scoreless. He tracked down a line drive to right center to end the first inning and caught a ball with his back to the wall to end the second inning.
TCU led 1-0 on Josh Watson’s double in the fifth inning, scoring Connor Wanhanen, who walked with two out. Watson also doubled in the eighth inning to drive in a run.
The game began at 9:45, a delay of 2 hours and 45 minutes, as the second of two games impacted by rain on Saturday after being postponed by rain on Friday.