TCU will live to play another game Sunday, as a pair of two run home runs and an exceptional performance out of the pen by Jake Eissler enabled them to fend of Central Connecticut State University by a score of 9-5 in an elimination game in Fayetteville.
The Horned Frogs turned to freshman Dawson Barr to start the afternoon game, hoping to save Jared Janczak for a rematch with Arkansas Sunday night. The gamble paid off; though Barr wasn’t sharp, he made it through two innings, allowing two runs on four hits with a strikeout and two walks.
The Blue Devils struck first, scoring a run in the top of the first thanks to a walk and a pair of singles. But the Frogs responded in turn, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame off the bat of Jake Guenther, who launched a two run shot to straight away center to put TCU out in front 2-1. The complexion of the game nearly changed in the second frame; the Blue Devils had runners at first and second with two down when Loda sent a shot toward the gap in left center. Both left fielder Josh Watson and center fielder Johnny Rizer came flying full speed toward the ball, careening into each other in an ugly looking collision. Watson’s glasses went flying, but, while lying prone on the grass, Rizer held up his glove with the ball tucked securely inside it. Both players were able to get up, and though a little worse for the wear, remained in the game.
In the top of the third, CCSU got rolling, scoring twice on three hits. Barr was lifted after allowing a lead-off single and striking out the next batter he faced, as Jim Schlossnagle pulled the freshman in favor of veteran Jake Eissler. Eissler has struggled this season; after looking unhittable out of the bullpen early, Eissler slid into a starting role when Jared Janczak was unable to go, and did not perform up to standards. Back in a relief role, he has been inconsistent, so when he gave up a pair of singles that scored a pair, there was cause for concern.
Thankfully for Frog fans, the junior more than settled in from there, and would get the run support he needed from his offense, too. TCU put two more on the board via their second two run home run of the game, when Austin Henry followed a Jake Guenther triple with a no-doubter to left field. With a 4-3 lead, Eissler allowed back to back one out singles in the top of the fourth, but struck out the next two batters he faced to get out of the inning. The Blue Devils did tie things up in the top of the fifth though, scoring their fourth run of the ball game thanks to back to back doubles. It would be the last time they threatened for a while though, as Jake started a streak of eight straight retired with one out in the fifth.
A three run sixth put TCU back out and front and gave them some breathing room that would prove critical, as they lit up Blue Devil starter Mike Appel, who threw 117 pitches on the day in just 5.2 innings of work. After Conner Shepherd groundout out, Adam Oviedo and Josh Watson both singled - Watson’s hit the first of the regional, but not his last of the day. Advancing on a wild pitch, Oviedo was able to score on Hunter Wolfe’s sac fly to give TCU a 5-4 lead, and Jake Guenther walked to put two on with two down. After a successful double steal, Austin Henry plated a pair with a base hit to stretch the lead to 7-4.
The Blue Devils got one run back in the eighth thanks to a solo shot (that went over Haylen Green, who found himself back in right field), and with two outs and a runner on, Jake Eissler was replaced by Dalton Brown. Eissler looked like his old self for the most part, scattering nine hits across 5.2 innings of work, allowing three runs and striking out six. He gave Schloss starters’ innings when they needed it most. Brown needed just two pitches to end the eighth, and the Frogs uncorked the offense once again in the ninth to really open things up. Josh Watson drilled one to left for a double off the wall, his third consecutive hit of the ball game. That brought up Hunter Wolfe, who was an absolute weapon Friday night against Cal but quieted by the Razorbacks a day later. Looks like our man woke up, as he smoked one to right field for the Frogs’ third two run home run of the game, giving them a 9-5 lead.
Dalton Brown walked the lead-off man in the top of the ninth and fell behind the next 1-0, apparently enough to end his day in the eyes of Jim Schlossnagle. Cal Coughlin made the trip from the pen to the mound in a high pressure spot, and he absolutely delivered.
One pitch got him the first two outs, as he induced a double play ball back up the middle and straight to Adam Oviedo. One pitch later, and another ground ball to the Frogs’ short stop, and they were on to the next game and a rematch with Arkansas.
The heart of the order carried the offense for the Horned Frogs, as the trio of Wolfe-Guenther-Henry combined for all nine runs batted in on six hits, scoring five of the runs themselves as well. TCU drew just two walks against the CCSU but pounded out 16 hits.
Now the Frogs will send Jared Janczak to the mound against the Hogs, in what is sure to be another insane environment in Fayetteville. Win any way!