The lead photo in this article gives me a serious case of the sads. The words within don’t help, as it’s obvious Baker’s injury has really torn up the team.
“The emotion of that, when it happened, how it happened, to whom it happened, and right in front of our dugout — it was a horrible sound to hear him yelling in that kind of pain,” Schlossnagle said last week, before the Frogs closed the regular season with a series win at Cal. “It was an emotional kick to the heart big-time. The bus ride from the ballpark to the hotel was incredibly quiet. It felt like we lost the game.”
The Frogs hadn’t. In fact, they scored three runs in the next half-inning that night, minutes after seeing Baker taken out of the stadium, to win the game and clinch a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship.
But they couldn’t forget the scene.
“He’s probably my closest friend on the team. To see him go down like that and to see his face and to see it happen, it was excruciating for me,” catcher Evan Skoug said. “I got right down and prayed for him. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”
I cannot overstate how crucial it is for TCU to be getting back a healthy JJ just in time for the post-season.
“He completely set the tone for the game and, actually, for the weekend,” Schlossnagle said Monday as the Horned Frogs headed to Oklahoma City to prepare for their opener in the Big 12 tournament. “The worst case would have been to see him go out there and struggle and not feel great and kind of be back at ground zero. But he felt good. After going through Baker’s injury, that was a nice positive lift.”
Pitching for the first time since April 14, Janczak started and used just 27 pitches to retire all nine batters he faced in a 3-0 victory. He threw a first-pitch strike to the first eight batters, never faced a count worse than 2-1 (and that, only once) and missed the strike zone just six times.
Wade will have to play hurt the rest of the season, as there’s not a lot in the way of time off once the Big 12 tourney starts. But he appears poised to continue to contribute, even at 85%. Baker, on the other hand, will need a miracle to get back on the field in 2017. I wouldn’t put it past him.
“I won’t say he’s 100 percent. I think there are days he’s still sore. But he’s close,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s certainly well enough to play. I think he’s running 80, 85 percent. He swung the bat well up there. He’s good. He’s good to go.”
Listening to Schloss talk reminds TCU fans how on the precipice of greatness this team as been all year. Four walk off losses, inconsistent pitching from proven arms... it won’t take much going right to propel the Frogs to incredible heights.
“We got walked-off four times in conference play. If we just win one of those games, then you’re the outright champions,” Schlossnagle said. “So that’s disappointing. But it’s felt like all year that we haven’t really hit our stride.”
“It’s kind of been three steps forward, one step back,” Schlossnagle said, evaluating the season. “To me, again, you can attribute that to starting pitching. That’s the name of the game. But just like I feel our team’s best baseball is ahead, I feel like our best starting pitching is ahead.”
Texas Tech and TCU are all but locked in as National Seeds, barring an absolute disaster in OKC this week.
1. Can Texas Tech and TCU each receive NCAA national seeds?
It's a distinct possibility. Tech (42-13) and TCU (39-14) tied for the Big 12 regular-season title with the Red Raiders earning the top seed in Oklahoma City thanks to a series win over the Horned Frogs. Despite injury problems, Tech is fourth in the latest RPI while TCU is sixth. Tech received positive news Monday, with D1baseball.com reporting injured sophomore right-hander Davis Martin - who has gone 14-2 in two seasons but hasn't made an appearance since March with elbow tightness - will start the opener against Oklahoma State. TCU is still coping with the loss of power-hitting Luken Baker (41 RBIs, .528 slugging) to a left arm injury and is 3-3 since he was hurt.
The Frogs land two of the biggest misses from opposing Big 12 schools, stealing Jalen Reagor and Michael Onyemaobi. Here’s hoping Reagor reminds OU just how much they would like to have him early and often.
TCU WR Jalen Reagor: Perhaps the most exciting player to sign with a Big 12 program in 2017, Reagor brings to the league a long history with several of the Horned Frogs’ rivals. Out of Waxahachie, Texas, he was an early commitment to Texas Tech and flipped to Oklahoma in March 2016.
An Under Armour All-American and the 43rd-ranked player in the ESPN 300, Reagor settled on TCU in October after taking official visits to the campuses in Fort Worth and Norman. He picked the Frogs, in part, because of TCU's proximity to home and the opportunity to keep playing with high school teammate Kenedy Snell.
The Sooners later returned the favor by flipping defensive tackle and former TCU commit Tyreece Lott. But OU won’t soon forget its recruiting dance with Reagor. The schedule each season, in fact, won’t allow it.
There are some players from the 2016 class that we have yet to see make big plays on the field... but expect several of those names to be called this year.
Member of the class poised to break out in 2017: Vernon Scott, S
Scott was the No. 11 safety when he was recruited to TCU. As a freshman, Scott played in 11 games. During the offseason and spring practices, head coach Gary Patterson voiced his approval of how Scott could fare this season. With his first collegiate season out of the way and a spring season with Patterson in the books, Scott could come into 2017 making power plays and become an important asset to the Frogs.