Frogs fall 7-6 to Utah in first game of weekend series

TCU entered tonight’s contest against the Utah Utes in need of two wins to clinch a regular season conference title.

After 11 hard fought innings, that number remains the same as the Frogs still need a pair of victories after falling 7-6. Coach Schlossnagle said that the Frogs played very well but couldn’t finish off innings. Although two errors in the 11th let the game slip away, Schlossnagle credited the loss to the twelve runners TCU left on base compared to Utah’s four.

Tyler Wagner picked up the win for Utah while Stefan Crichton was handed the loss. TCU scored first in the bottom of the second when Joe Weik singled with two outs to score Jantzen Witte from second base. Both teams scored two runs in the second inning. Austin Shackleford doubled to lead off the inning and Trey Neilsen homered to left center to give the Utes their first lead of the night.

However, Miller worked out of the inning and the Frogs responded with a no-out rally. Featherston reached first on an error and Jerome Pena reached first on a bunt.

Jimmie Pharr singled up the middle to score Featherston, followed by a Brance Rivera sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with one out. Witte grounded out but tallied the RBI and the second inning ended with TCU up 3-2. James Brooks’ solo shot tied the game at the top of the third and Utah tallied another run to take the lead.

The score would remain the same until the sixth inning, when a controversial call led to a Ute run. Catcher Jason Elander threw out a Ute baserunner on an attempted steal but the umpire called batter interference, giving Utah runners at first and second with no outs as opposed to no one on with one out.

Though the crowd made its dissatisfaction well known, home plate umpire Jason Rogers was undeterred. Utah used a sacrifice to move the runners over to second and third and scored on a groundout to short. In the bottom of the sixth, Jimmie Pharr, starting for the first time since April 17, homered to bring the deficit to one. In the bottom of the seventh with two outs and a runner on first, a HBP and a walk loaded the bases for TCU. However, the rally fell short when Featherston grounded out weakly to third.

The Frogs did manage to tie the game in the eighth after Utah ace Rick Anton was pulled with a runner on and no outs. Witte’s sacrifice fly ensured that the game would go into extra innings. Utah scored two unearned runs in the eleventh to seal the deal. Zac Jordan dropped an easy fly ball in right.

The sacrifice bunt turned into a run when Pena couldn’t catch Crichton’s throw, leaving a runner on second without an out. Two sac flys brought in a second run and put the Frogs’ backs against the wall. Elander hit a double to center to score Coats and make it a one run game but Brett Johnson and Zac Jordan struck out on three pitches apiece to finish the game.

Though Erik Miller was unable to pick up a win on the mound, he turned in an effort that Coach Schlossnagle called “all guts.”

He threw 115 pitches in 8 innings of work, something that Elander said was huge for the depleted bullpen.

Stefan Crichton also pitched well, allowing no earned runs and striking out three in three innings of work.

At the plate, Jimmie Pharr was the standout with two RBIs on 3 for 4 hitting. TCU will be back in action tomorrow against Utah. The first pitch is scheduled for 4 o’clock.