Freshman right-hander Kole Klecker delivered his strongest outing of the season for the TCU baseball team on Friday, firing seven innings while striking out nine batters and allowing only three hits as the Horned Frogs defeated No. 14 Indiana State 4-1 in Game 1 of the NCAA Fort Worth Super Regional on Friday evening. Klecker (10-4) threw 101 pitches in the game, walking only one batter and limiting the Sycamores to only one extra-base hit in the win. TCU (41-22, 13-11 Big 12) has won 10 consecutive games and 18 of their last 20 games.
A school-record 8,812 fans were in attendance at Lupton Stadium on Friday, when the Horned Frogs broke the game open with three runs in the top of the third inning to command the early lead over the Sycamores. Indiana State’s Matt Jachec took the mound and avoided trouble over the first two frames, but the Horned Frogs got on the board when right fielder Austin Davis belted a line-drive homer over the left-field wall to give TCU a 1-0 lead. First baseman Cole Fontenelle followed with a two-run blast later in the frame, crushing a ball over the center-field fence after catcher Karson Bowen drew a one-out walk.
With TCU holding a 3-0 advantage, Klecker worked efficiently throughout the middle innings, retiring nine of the 10 hitters faced over the third, fourth and fifth innings. A one-out double created some slight trouble for the Horned Frogs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but a strikeout and a popout to the first-base side ended the Indiana State threat. TCU batters worked three walks against Jachec (7-4), who entered the game with 97 strikeouts and only 14 walks over nearly 100 innings pitched this season. Jachec went eight innings for the Sycamores, holding TCU to three runs and finishing with seven strikeouts.
Right-hander Luke Savage relieved Klecker in the bottom of the eighth inning, conceding a lead-off walk before forcing a double play during the following at-bat. TCU added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning, scoring after designated hitter Kurtis Byrne’s sacrifice fly brought home Fontenelle, who smacked a lead-off double to start the frame. Indiana State avoided the shutout in the bottom of the ninth inning, where Keegan Watson hit a two-out homer off Savage to make it a three-run game. But a strikeout ended the game and secured the victory for the Horned Frogs, who will advance to the NCAA College World Series in Omaha with one more win in the series. Game 2 will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday.