TCU Baseball did their damage in the middle innings in Friday night’s opener of the Dodger Classic, scoring two in the third, three in the fourth, and five spot in the sixth on their way to a 10 run output, plenty for Jared Janczak, who pitched a great game Friday night.
Both teams were scoreless through the first two innings, as the Trojan’s Chris Clarke struck out five of the first eight batters he faced. But after Conner Shepherd broke the streak with a one-out walk in the third, the rest of the TCU lineup seemed to get a bead on Clarke the second time through. With two outs, the Frogs got a double from Connor Wanhanen to plate the first run of the game, and he scored a batter later on Zach Humphreys shot back up the middle. TCU added three runs in the fourth, opening the inning with three straight hits - back to back singles from Josh Watson and Michael Landestoy capped by an AJ Balta double. After Shepherd’s RBI groundout plated the fourth run of the game, Coby Boulware drew a walk, setting up a nice trick play from Schloss. Boulware took off for second base, getting a great jump, and Balta timed things perfectly to steal home of the throw. TCU ended the fourth with a 5-0 lead, more than enough for Janczak and the Frog bullpen.
The Frogs weren’t done yet, though, as they struck once again in the sixth. AJ Balta, the Frog most familiar with USC and the Pac 12 as a former Oregon Duck, led off the inning with a rocket to the right field fence for a double. Adam Oviedo picked up his first hit of the night, of the infield variety, enabling Balta to scamper to third. Oviedo was able to take second on a wild pitch, and Coby Boulware’s single scored the sixth run of the game later in that at-bat. A strange sequence of events gave the Frogs run number seven; after USC switched pitchers, going to Esqueda out of the bullpen, Boulware stole second on the pickoff attempt, as he was going on the leg kick. The throw from first to second got away, allowing Oviedo to score easily, but Boulware was called out at third - after initially being ruled safe - when his apparent timeout call was not called. The Trojans changed pitchers again after a Connor Wanhanen walk and a Zach Humphreys single off the pitchers glove brought up Luken Baker with two on and two out.
You don’t want to face Baker with runners on, and Solomon Bates learned that the hard way. Bates tried to brush Baker off the plate with a pitch high and tight to start the at bat, and apparently, big Luken didn’t take too kindly to such a thing. The next pitch he saw he absolutely destroyed, sending a ball over the fence, out of the ball park, and bouncing around the neighboring tennis courts in left. It was a rocket shot that gave the Frogs a 10-0 lead and put the game well out of reach.
Meanwhile, Jared Janczak was dealing, pitching a clean game despite throwing just two 1-2-3 frames. JJ went 7.0 innings, allowing five hits, striking out eight, and - most importantly - not issuing a single walk in an exceptional performance that kept the Trojan hitters off balance all night. Though they were able to get hits, they never managed more than one base runner in an inning and had just one extra base hit. Once he settled in, he was electric, and just the guy Frog fans have been hoping to see in 2018.
JJ was relieved by true freshman Augie Mihlbauer, who allowed just an infield single in his one inning of work. He was relieved by Trey Morris, who started off the ninth by allowing a single and issuing a walk, but fought back to get two quick outs. Unfortunately, the Frogs would lose the shutout on a wild pitch - with the Trojans down to their final strike - accounting for the 10-1 final.
TCU finished the night with 10 runs on 12 hits, including four doubles and a home run. The Frogs struck out 12 times and walked three, with every batter reaching base safely at least once and six different players picking up an RBI. It was an effective, aggressive offensive effort by a team that was clicking with runners on base - they stranded just three on the night.
Next up for the Frogs is a big time matchup with #11 UCLA, with first pitch set for 9:00pm at Jackie Robinson Field.