TCU opened up their reign at No. 1 with a win on Friday night over the Nittany Lions in a game where they managed only two hits, but put six runs on the board anyway. The lineup wasn’t able to get much going, but strong pitching and good overall at-bats earned the top-ranked Frogs the victory.
The Frogs and the Nittany Lions traded jabs in the first inning as both teams went three-up-three-down to start the game, but it didn’t take long for TCU to open up the scoring. Baker lined out to start the bottom of the second, but Watson worked a walk in the next at-bat to give the Frogs their first baserunner of the night. Nolan Brown, back in the everyday lineup for the first time in over a year, connected on the first pitch he saw with a double to left field. An error by Penn State’s left fielder allowed Watson to score the first run of the game and moved Brown to third. Warner grounded out, scoring Brown to give the Frogs a 2-0 lead before Merrill struck out to end the inning.
TCU added a couple of runs to their lead in both the fourth and sixth innings. Skoug struck out to open the fourth, but managed to reach base on a dropped third-strike. Baker walked to put two runners on before a strikeout from Watson. Nolan Brown loaded the bases with another walk and Warner knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. Merrill got in a walk of his own to put runners on the corners and Baker scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0 before Wanhanen grounded out to end the inning.
In the sixth, walks by Baker and Warner put TCU in scoring position with two outs and Merrill was hit by a pitch to load the bases again. Wanhanen came through with one of TCU’s only two hits to score both Baker and Warner and stretch TCU’s lead to 6-0.
Meanwhile, Janczak was dealing in the early innings. He left the mound giving up three runs (two earned) on just two hits with one walk and six strikeouts in six innings of work. He was incredibly efficient up to the seventh inning, as he finished the sixth with a shutout, having thrown only 61 pitches. He ran into some trouble in seventh, allowing the Nittany Lions to load the bases before giving way to Sean Wymer.
Wymer came into a bases loaded situation with no outs in the seventh and gave up three runs, but he limited the damage in that inning, preserving a 6-3 lead for the Frogs, and went three-up-three-down in the eighth with two strikeouts to bridge the gap to Feltman in the ninth. The closer did his job, working a three-up-three-down inning of his own in the ninth with a strikeout, a ground out and a foul out to secure the win.
Wanhanen and Brown had the only two hits of the night and Brown looked great in his return to action. Not only did he go 1 for 3 with a run and a walk, he had a great throw from deep center field to get the ball back into the infield and help Cam Warner throw out the runner at third in the fourth to preserve the shutout. That was nice to see from a guy who battled injury all year last year. Landestoy and Hess both got into the game in the last couple of innings at first and second base respectively.