We got our first look at TCU Baseball Friday night at Lupton, and in a fitting for Valentine’s Day performance, we fell in love with some new and some familiar faces in the Frogs’ opening night win.
Juco transfer Johnny Ray — a highly-touted arm with definite pro potential that Jim Schlossnagle has been very complimentary of — got the start in game one, delivering a Friday night worthy performance. The junior struck out seven across 4.2 innings, not allowing a hit until the fourth frame, showcasing a wicked fastball and a gamesmanship that should make him a fan favorite. Though he walked three, he kept Kentucky off of the scoreboard and rarely gave them even a glimpse of hope on the base paths.
Haylen Green relieved Ray in the fifth and was solid as well, retiring the first four batters he faced and allowing just one hit while striking out one batter. Marcelo Perez took the ball in the seventh and struggled to find the zone initially, but recovered with a huge strikeout to end the frame.
Meanwhile, the Frogs offense was more than good enough, scoring three times in the first and twice in the seventh. The strong start was helped by a pair of walks and a two-run error, but TCU showed that they can make plays when needed, running the bases well and making contact when the opportunity presented itself. Austin Henry continued his strong play at the plate, earning am infield single, and Hunter Wolfe turned a sharply hit ball into an error and two runs. Conner Shepherd had a big night as well, knocking in the third run of the first inning on a sac fly and lacing a two-run triple down the right field line in the seventh to give the Frogs some breathing room late.
TCU saw several new faces make impacts; in addition to Ray’s work on the mound, Tommy Sacco, Gray Rodgers, and Phillip Sikes recored their first career hits, and Riley Cornelio pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
The Frogs finished with five runs on six hits, drawing eight walks while striking out seven times. The new-look defense was dinged with a single error but helped strand seven runners as TCU pitchers held Kentucky to one run on four hits, striking out 11 and walking five. It was a solid all-around performance, especially coming from a team with a lot of new faces playing their first official game together.
The Wildcats and Horned Frogs will meet for game two Saturday at 2:00pm, with Charles King expected to get the start for TCU.