It was another slow start for the Horned Frogs Friday night, as Jared Janczak was left looking for run support for the second straight start. After his near no hitter against Kansas last Saturday, JJ took the mound against a top-20 Pokes team hoping to continue his hot start to the season. While he was solid once again, he wasn't unhittable, and Oklahoma State touched him up for a first inning run off of a pair of singles and a sacrifice and added some insurance in the fourth off a single, a steal, and a throw down to second that sailed into center field.
With TCU trailing by a pair in the fifth, the heart of the order finally game through. The trio of Luken Baker, Evan Skoug, and Josh Watson - the 3, 4, and 5 hitters for the Frogs - started the game 0-5 with a walk. But in that fifth frame, Connor Wanhanen got things started with an infield single to short, and Austen wade followed him with an 11 pitch at bat that led to a single, putting two on with no out. Cam Warner, TCU’s best hitter with runners on this season, hit a fielder’s choice grounder that led to the Frogs having runners on the corners with just one down. Evan Skoug, who has been struggling mightily in March, was the next man up, and he delivered. On a 1-2 count, he lifted one high and deep to right, and with the wind having died down just an inning or two earlier, it kept going… and going… and going… landing in the second tier of the berm for a three run blast. The long ball gave the Frogs their first runs and first lead of the game, as they took a 3-2 advantage into the sixth.
Janczak struggled to start the sixth, starting the inning by plunking Benge and advancing him on a wild pitch. Jankzak allowed a single a batter later, and was lifted for Sean Wymer with runners on the corners and no outs. Wymer would battle in the inning, surrendering the tying run but limiting the damage after that.
Things remained quiet on offense until the eighth, when the big bats for the Cowboys came through once again. Benge and McCain hit back to back singles after a pop up to open the inning, and after a passed ball, Littell single then both home to give the Pokes back the lead, 5-3.
But this team, they do not quit - and they don't have to. Hitless in his last 14 at bats, Luken Baker stepped to the plate with one down in the bottom of the eighth, and muscled one out to right center to pull TCU within one, and Nolan Brown tied things up with a solo shot of his own on a really hard hit ball to right to tie things at five. After two over the fence, the Frogs did the rest of their damage in the inning the old fashioned way. Ryan Merrill used some hustle and heads up baserunning to reach first safely on a dropped third strike, and Michael Landestoy - inserted as a pinch hitter - was intentionally walked after getting ahead 3-1. Austen Wade was the next man up, and with two out he obliterated the first pitch he saw for a hard hit double off the wall in center to score two. TCU took a 7-5 lead into the ninth, bringing in Durbin Feltman to try and close out the series opening win.
Feltman made things interesting, surrendering a one out single and hitting a batter before settling in to get a strikeout and groundout to end the inning and the game. TCU’s series opening, 7-5 win, ties up the all time Big 12 series at seven a piece and gave the Frogs a leg up on their journey to retake first place in the conference. The winning pitcher was TCU’s Haylen Green, while Feltman picked up his fifth save. The Frogs jacked three home runs and a pair of doubles, worked three walks and struck out ten times. Skoug led TCU with three RBI’s, Wade had a pair of runs batter in on three hits - including the game winner - and Brown and Baker each had one a piece on solo blasts. Janczak finished with 5.0 innings pitched, allowing three runs - two earned - on four hits. He struck out five and walked two, but hit a batter and had a pair of wild pitches.
TCU is back at it tomorrow as they send Nick Lodolo to the mound for the 7:00pm start, looking to take the series and pick up their 16th win of the season.