How do you top a staff-wide scoreless stretch? You flirt with perfection.
That's exactly what TCU right-hander Jake Eissler did Saturday afternoon in the Horned Frogs' 4-3 win against Lamar at Lupton Stadium.
In his first start of the season (and second of his career), the sophomore from Littleton, Colo., overpowered the Cardinals with a career-high 12 strikeouts and faced the minimum 18 batters over six innings.
Even the lone hit surrendered by Eissler was erased.
After Avery George's lead-off flare fell just beyond the outstretched glove of second baseman Coby Boulware in shallow right in the sixth, Eissler picked him off at first base. He ended the inning with his 12th strikeout. Eissler has 23 strikeouts in his last 11 innings, including five innings of relief Sunday against Texas Tech.
"He pitches off his breaking ball and when he’s able to move that breaking ball around he'll have success against a lot of people," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Cal Coughlin earned the save for the second consecutive day.
TCU (26-18) was two outs from recording its fourth consecutive shutout before Lamar scored three runs in the ninth. The Frogs' scoreless string was snapped at 42 2/3 innings dating back to the third inning against Texas Tech on April 29. Lefty Haylen Green starts the series finale against Lamar at 1 p.m. Sunday. TCU has won five straight and seven of its past eight.
Just as they did in Friday's series opener, the Frogs took an early lead with with a second inning solo homer from Michael Landestoy.
Josh Watson homered for the second consecutive game, a solo shot in the fourth. Connor Wanhanen's two-run homer down the right-field line pushed the lead to 4-0. It was Wanhanen's first homer of 2018. The Frogs have 28 homers this season, including four in the past two games.
"We’ll take it. It’s a pretty anemic offense right now," said Schlossnagle, who wasn't thrilled with a lack of competitiveness in the batter's box on Saturday. "We have to be at least adequate offensively to make any kind of run and a day like today is not going to get it done."
That's probably true. But if TCU keeps getting this kind of pitching, they won't need a whole lot of run support.
"Since Texas Tech, I've just been in a little bit of a groove. I've really found my slider, especially since last weekend, and tried to carry that into today," said Eissler, who threw 75 pitches in six innings.