LOS ANGELES — TCU will fly home happy after an emotionally charged series win at USC. On Saturday, the Horned Frogs took a 3-0 win at Dedeaux Field in a game that featured a benches-clearing altercation resulting in a pair of ejections.
TCU scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning on a Jantzen Witte two-run triple and added an insurance run the next inning on a Boomer White single. It was plenty enough. Starter Andrew Mitchell combined with relievers Trevor Seidenberger, Riley Ferrell and Alex Young for a four-hit shutout. USC never even got a runner to third base.
Mitchell picked up his first win since moving into the starting rotation from the closer role in the middle of the season. Young picked up his fourth save. USC starter Kyle Twomey fell to 2-6 despite pitching well.
The Game Changer:
Both teams stormed the field in the top of the sixth inning. After Twomey got ahead 0-2, the umpire called time and stepped between USC catcher Garrett Stubbs and Derek Odell, TCU’s hottest hitter, who had five hits in the first two games of the series. The two were jawing back and forth, exchanging pleasantries — possibly about Odell peeking back to steal signs and/or location.
The very next pitch from Twomey was up and in, hitting the brim of Odell’s helmet and knocking it off his head.
Odell fired the bat down and sauntered toward the mound with Stubbs and home plate umpire Anthony Norris jogging after him. Both benches rushed out of the dugouts before the umpires were able to quickly diffuse the situation. No punches were thrown and the most action occurred when TCU pitching coach Kirk Saarloos tried to calm Stubbs. The normally mild-mannered Stubbs would have none of it as he dismissed Saarloos’ attempts by shoving away his hands.
After the confrontation concluded and the teams returned to the dugouts, the umpires gathered and decided to eject both Twomey and Odell, much to the disbelief of USC head coach Dan Hubbs, who vehemently disagreed. When all settled and play resumed, the Horned Frogs loaded the bases with two outs against Brooks Kriske.
The Trojans went to the bullpen for Brent Wheatley. Boomer White greeted Wheatley by lining his first pitch to left field. Bobby Stahel fielded the ball on one hop and fired a strike to the plate. His throw took one bounce and landed right in Stubbs’ glove, who was planted right in front of the plate and stopped Keaton Jones from even reaching home. But the runner from third scored giving TCU a 3-0 lead.
Texas Christian head coach Jim Schlossnagle talks about how his team needs to improve its short game, the Horned Frogs’ offensive capability and his interpretation of the sixth-inning confrontation:
Dan Hubbs, head coach of the Trojans, talks about how it’s the little things that are holding USC back. He also shares his displeasure with the umpire’s decision to eject Kyle Twomey and Derek Odell and discusses how USC’s players were very invested in the emotional series.
- Andrew Mitchell – 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 3 K, Win
- Boomer White - 3-for-5, 2B, RBI
- Jantzen Witte – 1-for-5, 3B, 2 RBI
- Alex Young - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K, Save
- Greg Zebrack - 1-for-2, 2B, 2 BB
- Kyle Davis – 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 pitches
The Bottom Line:
The Horned Frogs earned a hard-fought series win and are within a game of evening their record on the season, filled mostly with disappointment. But TCU’s goal for the rest of the season is to continue to make offensive progress and build on their Big 12 Tournament seeding, so it can potentially make a run in the conference tournament and win their way into the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid.
The Horned Frogs return to Big 12 play next weekend at West Virginia before concluding their conference schedule at home against a struggling Texas squad. The offense seemed to take some strides this weekend and even a lot of the outs were hard-hit balls. Derek Odell had six hits on the weekend before being ejected Saturday and Keaton Jones raised his average up to .223 with multiple hits in both the first two games.
USC will try and build on the emotion of the weekend in their final 10 games of a lost season, as the youthful Trojans simply try to gain some experience. They still have rival UCLA on the schedule and there’s nothing they would enjoy more this season than playing spoiler and possibly keeping the Bruins from hosting a regional.
Dan Hubbs was really excited about the progress of Kyle Twomey on Saturday after he’s struggled the last month. Twomey is one of the guys USC thinks can be a future cornerstone, but he’s got to show better control of his pitches. The Trojans have a ton of young arms — evidenced by the four freshmen that pitched the series finale — and the more success they have at the end of the 2013 season, the more confidence they will continue to build going into the 2014 season.
Also check out the short breakdown from Thursday night’s 5-4 matchup at Dedeaux Field.