TCU baseball beats Rice 3-1 in battle of ranked teams

Cody Jones scores in front of Rice catcher Hunter Kopycinski to put TCU up 3-0 in the fourth inning.
Cody Jones scores in front of Rice catcher Hunter Kopycinski to put TCU up 3-0 in the fourth inning. Special to the Star-Telegram

With weather wiping out its weekend series, the TCU pitching staff needed some work heading into a daunting trip to Los Angeles.

The Horned Frogs’ arms got their innings Tuesday night, and they were as solid as they’ve been all season.

Left-hander Alex Young pitched two scoreless innings and was credited with the win, but starter Mitchell Traver, Preston Morrison, Ryan Burnett and Riley Ferrell also held Rice scoreless in a 3-1 win at Lupton Stadium. The Frogs (8-1), ranked third in the nation, will visit No. 23 Southern Cal on Friday, head to No. 6 UCLA on Saturday and face defending national champion Vanderbilt, ranked No. 4, on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

“We were at a decided advantage all night. We hadn’t played since last [Wednesday], and they’ve played four games since then,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We had to get guys on the mound. We can’t have guys go two weeks without pitching.”

Offensively, TCU bothered Rice starter Austin Solecitto early.

Cody Jones led off the first inning with an infield single, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw and reached third on a wild pitch. Garrett Crain doubled to drive in Jones, then scored on a single by Evan Skoug.

Jones, who entered with a team-high 10 hits, collected two more, scored twice and stole his fourth base of the season. Skoug went 2 for 3 and also stole a base to go along with his RBI. Connor Wanhanen singled home Jones with two outs in the fourth.

“Cody’s an igniter for our team — there’s no doubt about that,” Schlossnagle said. “When he stays above the ball and puts the ball in play, especially on the ground, then he’s going to make the defense hustle.”

The whole time, TCU’s pitchers had the 15th-ranked Owls (8-6) on lockdown until the eighth inning, when Connor Teykl singled to score Ford Stainback.

Traver worked a perfect first inning, his fastball topping out twice at 94 mph. The redshirt sophomore, who has thrown 16 scoreless innings to open the season, will start Friday night against USC.

Young, the Frogs’ Sunday starter, entered in the second inning and retired six of eight batters.

Ferrell closed the game on seven pitches in the ninth, earning his 21st career save, a new school record.

Games added

TCU has added two games against Abilene Christian to its schedule to make up for last weekend’s canceled series against Cal Poly.

The Horned Frogs will visit the Wildcats on April 6, and ACU will come to Fort Worth on April 22. ACU was already scheduled to play TCU on May 12. All games will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Ticket holders for the Friday game against Cal Poly can use that ticket for the April 22 game. Ticket holders for the other two games against Cal Poly can exchange them for any future game, based on availability.

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