They led 5-3 when he crossed home plate again.
Baker launched an absolute missile over the left field seats of TD Ameritrade Park, his third home run of the postseason, to drive home 3 runs and lead the Frogs to the win. In the press box, writers and onlookers let out audible gasps at the sound the ball made off the bat; in the stands, TCU fans went wild.
“He’s a hell of a college baseball player,” Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock said of Baker postgame.
“Our dugout just goes completely silent, because all we hear is that ball hitting the barrel, and it sounds like a bomb going off,” TCU pitcher Brian Trieglaff said.
Baker’s home run effectively put an end to what was a tense, back-and-forth matchup.
The Red Raiders struck first in the bottom of the third inning, with a double to the left field wall scoring a lone run. TCU equalized in the top of the fourth, with a Ryan Merrill sacrifice fly scoring Elliott Barzilli.
The Frogs would take the lead in the fifth, on Cam Warner’s third home run of the NCAA Tournament.
The Red Raiders refused to let the lead go. Tanner Gardner’s double down the left field line escaped a diving Barzilli and tied the game at 2-2.
TCU starter Jared Janczak was credited with just one earned run, and Horned Frog head coach Jim Schlossnagle said he was pleased with his redshirt freshman starter’s outing.
“He made some good pitches when he had to,” Schlossnagle said. “I think both times they scored, he walked the leadoff hitter, and I wanted to shoot him from the dugout.”
“He battled, and he gave us a chance. It wasn’t his best outing, but he kept a really good team at least somewhat in check.”
After the 5th, the bullpen settled in for both teams, as Brian Trieglaff and Hayden Howard took over for TCU and Tech, respectively.
Tech took the lead in the bottom of the 8th, when Hunter Hargrove doubled to right to chase Trieglaff and give the Red Raiders a 3-2 lead. Ryan Burnett came in and finished out the inning, and TCU exited the 8th in danger of dropping their CWS opener for the first time in school history.
Then, of course, came the 9th. And while the Frogs certainly didn’t know exactly what Baker would do in his at bat, they had a feeling their big freshman would come through.
“We know it’s not going to be a giveaway at bat — I mean, look at the size of him,” Trieglaff said.
“He’s a grinder,” Cam Warner said. “He puts himself in good counts, and gets good pitches to hit.”
Durbin Feltman, Baker’s high school teammate, came on to pitch the ninth inning for the Frogs, and got the Red Raiders to go down in order to end the game.
Burnett was credited with the win, Feltman with the save, and Tech’s Robert Dugger, who gave up Baker’s home run, was given the loss.
TCU will next take on the winner of Florida and Coastal Carolina at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Florida-Coastal Carolina game is set to start at 7 p.m. tonight.