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Barz, Baker go deep as Frogs rout Racers

The big boppers in the TCU lineup are heating up at the right time.

Melissa Triebwasser

TCU was happy to be home this weekend, as they returned to their hard-swinging ways in a 9-2 win over the Murray State Racers Friday evening. The Frogs started behind for the first time in a while, surrendering a second inning run off of a walk, error, and single with Jared Janczak on the mound. But TCU wasn’t going to let their Friday night ace take an L, striking right back in the bottom of the frame for a pair, off of Nolan Brown’s two out single and an Elliot Barzilli blast to left. Barz, who has been coming around at the plate over the last couple of weeks, put a great swing on it, and looked like his old self at the plate as he gave TCU a lead they would never relinquish.

While the 2-1 lead through two was enough with Janczak on the bump, the Frogs weren’t done yet. They added to their total in the third, scoring three more to give some cushion to their starting pitcher. Things started with a lead-off single by Connor Wanhanen, who advanced to second on a balk. Then, with two outs once again, the Frogs pushed one across, as Evan Skoug singled back up the gut to plate Wanny. With a runner at first, Murray State was forced to pitch to Luken Baker, and he made them pay with a massive rip off the scoreboard in left to give the Frogs a 5-1 lead.

TCU got themselves in all kinds of trouble in the top of the fourth though, and were lucky to get out of things without too much damage. The Racers sandwiched a pair of singles around Janczak’s fourth strikeout of the game, putting runners on first and second with one out. TCU then blew a double play ball to load the bases, and Jared issued his second walk of the game to bring home Murray State’s second run of the day. That left the bases still juiced with just one out in the frame, but Janczak bounced back to induce a grounder to second that Cam Warner was able to glove flip to Ryan Merrill to start the 4-6-3 double play and get the Frogs out of the inning.

Things were quiet until the bottom of the sixth, when TCU pulled off some more two-out Lupton Magic. The Racers went to the pen, bringing in the high leg kicking Lollar, who started off his first inning of work by plunking Nolan Brown. A foul out and a grounder put two down with Brown at second, but TCU loaded the bases on Wanhanen’s walk and Wade’s HBP. That left things up to Cam Warner, who hit one over the wall the last time he faced a bases loaded situation, and while he didn’t hit one out, his single to left plated a pair to make it 7-2. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Skoug struck out at the end of a nine pitch at bat. But the Frogs had more than enough on the scoreboard to cruise home.

But, why cruise when you can speed. Josh Watson got his first hit of the game in the seventh inning, singling with one out and matriculating to second on a failed pick-off attempt. Nolan Brown was hit for the second time a batter later, setting up a first and second situation for Barzilli with one out. He came through once again, doubling to right on the first pitch of the AB, making it 8-2 Frogs. Brown scored a batter later as Merrill reached safely on an error, and TCU had a 9-2 advantage through seven.

With a big cushion, JJ took a seat, finishing a 7.0 inning performance having allowed just five hits while striking out seven and walking two on 100 pitches - 65 for strikes. Neither run that scored was earned, thus dipping his season ERA to 1.79. He finished his night be retiring the last ten batters he faced. Charles King took his place on the mound for the eighth, and was in and out of the frame with just six pitches. King continued to be efficient in the ninth, getting the first out on his first pitch. A pair of groundouts ended the inning and the game, giving the Frogs their tenth straight win.

The Frogs were led offensively by the aforementioned Barz and Baker bombs, as they combined for five RBIs. Barz, Skoug, and Warner each had two hits - Warner added to his team leading RBI total with two Friday, giving him 30 on the year. The Frogs had one of their lowest walk totals of the season, drawing only two, and struck out six times. They scored their nine runs on ten hits, three of the extra base variety.

TCU will be back at Lupton Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm, with the four seniors from the Frogs’ NIT Champion basketball team scheduled to throw out the first pitch. There will be a shuttle running from Lot 2 near Amon G. Carter Stadium for those wanting to watch the Spring Game at 11:00am.