TCU and coach Jim Schlossnagle have seen what Mitchell Traver can do when he is pitching at his best.
Tuesday night, they saw it again.
The senior right-hander retired the first 11 batters, and 12 of 13 in all, in four dominating innings to lead the third-ranked Horned Frogs to a 13th consecutive win, 9-3 at Dallas Baptist.
Traver struck out five and gave up only a two-out double, walking none in a sharp 53-pitch outing in his second start since recovering from a muscle injury in his back that cut short a Feb. 28 start.
“First time in a while that I’ve just felt really comfortable,” Traver said. “Fastball command was really good. When you have good fastball command, it just kind of sets everything up.”
Traver is TCU’s most experienced postseason pitcher, and Schlossnagle had him penciled in for Tuesday night starts. But he missed a month of action after an early-season injury for a second year in a row.
After throwing 37 pitches in two innings of a start last week at UT Arlington, he was scheduled to throw 50 in this start. He was so efficient — not going to a three-ball count to the nine batters faced in the first three innings — he went four innings and struck out five. He allowed only a double to 10-homer hitter Austin Listi that hit the foul line on the wall in left field with two out in the fourth inning.
“He actually pitched as well as he’s pitched since he’s been at TCU, in terms of command and just throwing his breaking ball for strikes,” Schlossnagle said. “Threw a couple of changeups, attacked the strike zone, pitched to both sides of the plate with his fastball.”
Luken Baker homered to give TCU a 1-0 lead in the second inning, and Austen Wade and Elliott Barzilli each drove in two runs as the Frogs (27-5) won their 13th consecutive game, matching the 2014 team for the longest streak under Schlossnagle.
The longest winning streak in school history is likely the 14 consecutive games won in 1993, according to TCU records dating to 1966.
TCU broke the game open with a three-run seventh that included Wade’s two-run single to make it 9-3.
Trey Morris, Sean Wymer, Dalton Brown and Durbin Feltman combined to allow one run in five innings of relief and struck out eight batters, securing Traver’s win.
“It’s definitely encouraging,” Traver said. “That’s a good DBU team. Listi, I’ve known him for 10 years. Those are good hitters. I was thankful things went the way they did. Really just felt good about the pitches I was able to make to the bottom of the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters, putting our team in a good place to win a ballgame.”