FORT WORTH, Texas - TCU used clutch two-out RBI early on and a dominating pitching performance from Brandon Finnegan to spoil Jacksonville’s 2014 season opener and hand the Dolphins a 5-0 loss Friday night at Lupton Stadium.
After allowing three, two-out runs in the first two innings, junior righty Alex McRae (West Allis, Wis.) tossed three straight shutout innings for the Dolphins. McRae ended his night going five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“I thought Alex did a good job of competing and not giving up a big inning on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff,” said Tim Montez, who was making his debut as the Dolphins Head Coach. “We’ve been working with him on staying in the game and to keep battling and he certainly did that tonight.”
TCU stuck first in the opening inning on a two-out, two run single to center by Jerrick Suiter for a 2-0 lead. Another two out single to center in the second by the Horn Frog’s Kyle Bacak added another run and gave TCU a 3-0 after two.
Jacksonville was never able to quite get anything going against Finnegan. The lefty, who was ranked as high as the as the No. 15th player in the nation by College Baseball Daily, struck out eight of the first nine he faced on the way to a career best 13 in seven innings of work.
“I’ve seen that before,” said Montez. “He reminded me of when we had Cliff Lee throwing every Friday night at Arkansas. “It’s tough going up a guy who was really in a grove the way Finnegan was tonight, but as the game went on I thought our guys did a good job of grinding out at-bats and staying aggressive at the plate.”
McRae would give way to freshman Nathan Disch (Appleton, Wis.) to start the sixth, who retired the Horned Frogs in order before finding trouble in the seventh. After a strike out to start the inning, Disch allowed back-to-back singles before Kevin Cron, a third round pick by the Seattle Mariners last season, belted a two-run double for a 5-0 lead. Senior catcher Braddock Rowe (Jacksonville, Fla.) then caught Cron trying to steal third, one of two base runners Rowe nailed trying to steal on the night.
Rowe also added a lead-off single in the fifth then moved to second on a one-out hit from sophomore Parker Perez (Winter Springs, Fla.). A strikeout and a flyball to right however ended Jacksonville’s best scoring opportunity of the night.
The Dolphins will try to even up the series tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is schedule for 2:00 pm CST (3:00 pm EST).