Jared Janczak was not ready for his TCU Baseball career to be over.
The Frogs nearly wasted his exceptional day, but some late-inning heroics earned them a 13-6 win and the chance to play Okie State for a second time Saturday, with the winner advancing to Sunday’s championship game.
The redshirt senior, who spent most of the past two seasons injured, made what could be the final start of his career Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City, and did everything in his power to fend off a potent Oklahoma State team and give his team one more shot to advance to Sunday’s championship tilt.
Janczak took the mound for TCU and looked like his elite self early, striking out the first eight batters he faced before issuing a two out base hit in the bottom of the third. He kept the Cowboys off the board until the bottom of the fourth, when a one-out solo shot to dead center put OSU on the board. By that point, though, the Frogs had put six runs on the board themselves, scoring three in the first thanks to doubles by Johnny Rizer and Zach Humphreys, which brought home Josh Watson (single), Austin Henry (four pitch walk), and Rizer. Rizer singled and scored in the third as well, and Watson made it 6-0 an inning later with a two run blast that brought home Hunter Wolfe.
After surrendering the one-out home run, Janczak worked himself out of trouble; a bloop base hit put a runner on, and a poor throw on a pick-off attempt moved him all the way to third. But JJ settled in, striking out the next batter he faced and getting a line out to end the frame.
Janczak struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth to give him 11 on the day, but the Cowboys got one back an inning later - though it could have been much worse. A couple of walks and a single brought home a run, but a head’s up play by Bobby Goodloe - getting the start at third with Conner Shepherd at first due to Jake Guenther’s injury - ended the inning. Goodloe had moved into position to field a relay, vacating the bag at third. Cody Simpson saw the unoccupied base and attempted to go first to third, but Goodloe hustled back into position to make a tag and end the frame.
Janczak’s day was done at that point, and if it’s the last time we see him in purple, what a finale it was. JJ’s final line: 6.0 innings, four hits, two runs, two walks, and 12 strikeouts.
Augie Mihlabuer replaced Janczak on the mound to begin the seventh, his second appearance of the Big 12 Tournament. He walked the first batter he faced, and then the second, ending his afternoon. Cal Coughlin, who earned the save this morning, took over for Mihlbauer - but didn’t fare much better - giving up three consecutive hits on just seven pitches, including a grand slam home run that tied the game at six. Haylen Green, who also pitched against Baylor, came in and settled things down, getting out of the inning without further damage being done.
TCU had their bullpen’s back, though, as the bats woke up in the top of the eighth to put the Frogs back on top. Wolfe, Watson, and Rizer all reached to start things off - the first two on singles and the third thanks to an error. Wolfe made it to third thanks to an error, and scored on Watson’s base knock. Austin Henry delivered a double to score two, and Conner Shepherd singled to make it a 10-6 ball game.
Things could have been much worse for the Cowboys, who got a great defensive play to calm the storm. Zach Humphreys singled to put two on with no outs, and Andrew Keefer hit a sharp line drive to the right side, that looked like it was going to get through.
If did not.
The Oklahoma State second baseman made a diving snag and turned it into two outs, but a base hit by Goodloe and a walk by Adam Oviedo loaded the bags. A passed ball brought home run number 11, but Wolfe struck out to end the inning.
Green was nails in the bottom of the frame, striking out the side around a one base hit. TCU continued their hot hitting in the top of the ninth, getting a pair of base hits and a Humphreys’ double to make it a 13-6 ball game. That’s how it would stay, as Green pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to give TCU a win and keep their season alive.
The Frogs and Cowboys will be back in action after the conclusion of Texas Tech and West Virginia, which means we could be looking at a very late night/early morning.
Let’s play two more, TCU!