As TCU tries to find a fourth starter, freshman right-hander Jake Eissler made a good case for himself.
The bullpen hand pitched four strong innings in a 10-2 victory against UT Rio Grande Valley at Lupton Stadium on Tuesday night, earning his first victory as a starter. Eissler (3-0) gave up a run on six hits, struck out two and walked one.
He threw 67 pitches just two days after using 14 pitches to save a game for the No. 3 Horned Frogs (18-5).
“Coming in, I didn’t have my best stuff. My command wasn’t up to par as much as I like it,” he said. “I just worked with what I have, and it turned out well.”
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Now he’s in line to possibly prepare for another start if coach Jim Schlossnagle does not need him in a weekend series at Kansas State.
We need to have some competition for that fourth spot. ... To win the conference tournament, you need four starting pitchers at minimum.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle
“He did a good job pitching to the conditions and throwing strikes,” Schlossnagle said, acknowledging Eissler’s short rest. “He’s a much better pitcher than that, and we’re going to need him to be if he’s going to be in the mix to be the fourth guy moving forward.”
Schlossnagle said Wednesday’s starter, Dalton Horton, and veteran right-hander Mitchell Traver will also get close looks for the fourth starting spot, plus a fifth spot down the road if it is necessary in postseason.
The weekend rotation is set as Schlossnagle envisioned with Jared Janczak, Nick Lodolo and Brian Howard in that order.
“We need to have some competition for that fourth spot,” Schlossnagle said. “Ideally, it’s Traver. But with his past, we can’t count on that. We’re going to work towards that, but we need to develop somebody else besides Dalton. To win the conference tournament, you need four starting pitchers at minimum.”
TCU led wire-to-wire for the sixth time in 24 games this season. The Horned Frogs have not trailed in the past 21 innings.
Shortstop Ryan Merrill hit a three-run home run in the second inning and drove in a career-high four runs for TCU. Cam Warner hit a two-run double in a five-run eighth. Elliott Barzilli had an RBI single, and Austen Wade had a bases-loaded walk.
Charles King pitched three innings of relief, and Sean Wymer and Cal Coughlin each pitched a scoreless inning. Wymer struck out the side in the eighth on 11 pitches.
“Wymer was ultra-impressive, and Cal I thought was really good,” Schlossnagle said. “I like having a guy down there that can throw from a different angle.”
UT Rio Grande Valley fell to 16-12. The same teams play at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to finish the two-game set.