Mitchell Traver pitched two scoreless innings and came out healthy, Josh Watson drove in three runs, and third-ranked TCU won its ninth consecutive game by beating UT Arlington 5-4 on Tuesday at Clay Gould Ballpark.
Missions accomplished for the Horned Frogs.
“It was good to see Mitchell out there,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He had to make some pitches to get through those two innings. Felt great coming out of it. The two goals we had, No. 1, to throw the number of pitches we needed him to throw, and two, to feel good about it.”
Traver, a senior right-hander pitching for the first time since exiting a Feb. 28 start in the first inning, threw 37 pitches, 26 for strikes and struck out four. He gave up two hits, walked none and hit one batter.
He was awarded the win, his first decision of the year, as he aims to move into the midweek starter role the Frogs envisioned for him. He missed a month after a back muscle injury caused him to leave his start after three batters.
“Next week, we can extend him out a little further and see if he can’t get better and find his command,” Schlossnagle said.
Watson’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the first inning and his two-run double in the fifth inning keyed the TCU lineup against six UTA pitchers. Jordan West opened the game by walking the first three hitters, but reliever Jake Wilcox entered and allowed only Watson’s sacrifice fly.
The lead stayed at 1-0 until the fifth, when Cam Warner singled and Watson doubled for a 4-0 lead.
Will Olson and Christian Hollie led off the sixth and seventh innings with solo home runs for UTA (14-16). In between, Luken Baker had an RBI double in the seventh for TCU (23-5).
“Slowly but surely, it’s starting to come together,” Watson said of the TCU lineup. The RBIs put him at 20 for the season, and his seventh double put him second on the team in that category.
Durbin Feltman recorded his eighth save in eight chances this year, but he gave up his first runs in 17 save situations at TCU when No. 9 hitter Aaron Funk’s triple to deep center scored pinch hitter Colton Turner, who had reached on an error at third with one out.
Easton Johnson’s single followed and cut the lead to 5-4.
After a groundout to shortstop moved Johnson to second, he was thrown out at third by Zach Humphreys after trying to advance on a loose ball at the plate.
“We were a hit away from tying it, and who knows? Maybe we run one out of the yard and get a walkoff,” UTA coach Darin Thomas said. “But it’s tough to do against those kind of arms. I’m encouraged just because we battled back and had a chance and didn’t lay down.
“It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re getting a little overmatched at the plate. Everybody knows they bring in better arm after better arm and then you end up with Feltman. That’s as good as it gets at the end.”