Jason Coats had been there countless times over the last four years. At the plate, late in the game, with the chance to drive in decisive runs for TCU.
Most of the time over his stellar career he has provided the clutch hit.
In the Horned Frogs' season opener against Mississippi on Friday at Lupton Stadium, the senior experienced a rare missed opportunity for heroics. Coats, representing the tying run, struck out swinging in the bottom of the ninth as No. 22 Mississippi took Game 1 of the three-game series 7-4. The second-largest crowd for a TCU opening day (5,912) was on hand.
"He threw a fastball and I just missed it," said Coats, who drove in two runs. "Sometimes it doesn't go your way. It's disappointing, but it's not the end of the world. We still have the whole season in front of us."
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Coats wasn't the only Frog dealing with a rare defeat. Starter Andrew Mitchell, who lost only once last season as a freshman, took the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings.
He pitched well, but Allen High School alumnus Alex Yarbrough jumped on a fastball meant to be off the plate and sent it over the right field wall for a two-run homer in the fifth. The two-out blow gave the Rebels a 4-2 lead.
"It was just a badly located pitch and he made me pay for my mistake," Mitchell said. "I knew immediately he was going to hit that hard, and when he hit it I knew it was gone."
Rebels starter Bobby Wahl earned the win after allowing two runs in five innings. He escaped more damage courtesy of great defensive play by his teammates. Twice the Frogs were thrown out at home, including Brance Rivera in the first and Kevin Cron in the fourth. Cron later left the game after his back tightened up after the home-plate collision.
With two outs in the seventh the Rebels scored two more on three consecutive singles.
"They put the ball in play and balls fell and good things happened for them," Mitchell said. "Everybody wants to start off on the right foot and win your first game but things happen."
TCU scored twice in the bottom of the inning behind Keaton Jones' double and Coats' single to make it 6-4. Andrew Mistone's solo homer to left in the eighth pushed the Rebels' lead back to three.
"The balls we hit close to the fence, they hit over the fence," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "They did a good job of taking advantage of our mistakes."
TCU sophomore Stefan Crichton takes the hill at 2 p.m. today against the Rebels in Game 2.