The Frogs struggled to figure out Kansas State’s Kasey Ford Friday night, but jumped all over the Cats relievers with a big assist from Luken Baker on their way to a 4-2 win Friday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
The Frogs struggled to get much going on offense early, despite being the first to crack the scoreboard in the second inning. Conner Shepherd, who had far and away his best game as a Horned Frog Friday, started the scoring with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the second. It was the second home run of the season for Shep, and the first of three he had on the evening. But the lead wouldn’t hold, as Jared Janczak - who had been rolling - allowed two runs in the top of the fourth after issuing back to back walks to start the frame. Janczak was sharp early, ending the first three innings with strikeouts, but struggled to find the zone in the fifth, allowing two of his three walks on the night. JJ scattered seven hits through 5.2, allowing the two runs while striking out six. He exited in the top of the sixth after allowing back to back singles, replaced by Augie Mihlbauer, who was absolutely electric.
Mihlbauer has been really good in this, his freshman campaign, but he was other-worldly Friday night to keep the Frogs in the game. Augie came on with two on and two out and made quick work of Thompson, striking him out on four pitches. He struck out four in 2.1 innings of work, not throwing a ball until the fifth batter he faced, and finishing having thrown 23 strikes in 32 pitches. That kept things close, and allowed for some late-inning Horned Frog heroics.
In the bottom of the eighth, TCU finally got something going.
Zach Humphreys started things off by taking one for the team, getting beaned in the back by a Kasey Ford fastball. That put a runner on for Luken Baker, and he came to the plate to do Luken Baker things:
BAKER ! #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/7AmCsndhQB— TCU Baseball (@TCU_Baseball) March 24, 2018
Baker’s blast gave TCU a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish, but they added an insurance run anyway after Josh Watson reached on a walk and scored with the help of a wild pitch and an error to give the Frogs the final 4-2 margin. Durbin Feltman came on in the top of the ninth in a save situation and did his thing, striking out all three batters he faced on 12 pitches, ten of them strikes.
In all, TCU pitchers struck out 13 Wildcat batters, allowing just seven hits and walking just four hitters. The Frogs were held to just eight hits, the timely ones coming in their final frame. Shepherd was the only TCU batter to notch a multi-hit game, and he had the only stolen base of the night as well. The Frogs struck out just six times and walked four.
These two teams are back at it tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 2:00pm.