The freshman designated hitter has carried the Frogs throughout this postseason. He’s answered raised expectations by continuing to up his level of play.
Maybe assistant coach Kirk Saarloos said it best on Twitter after the game.
“That was neat,” Saarloos wrote.
I could write this entire column about Baker, but by now I’m sure you’ve seen the replay countless times. I’m sure Baker’s height and weight are ingrained in your head – commentators act like Baker’s stature is just part of his full name. I’m sure you know that he’s a complete hitter that opponents will fear for the remainder of the College World Series.
But there are many other guys on this team, and Baker wasn’t the only player whose performance should draw rave reviews.
Starting pitcher Jared Janczak didn’t have his best stuff Sunday. Coach Schlossnagle joked in the postgame presser that he wanted to shoot him from the dugout when he walked the leadoff hitter, twice.
But Schlossnagle added that Janczak battled throughout, navigating his way through a Texas Tech lineup that’s potent enough to bat the Big 12 Player of the Year Eric Gutierrez sixth.
Janczak’s saving grace was his ability to rack up strikeouts. His eight strikeouts through 4 2/3 innings kept runners from advancing on sacrifice flies or grounders.
The freshman’s pitching performance was surpassed by his replacement, junior Brian Trieglaff. Trieglaff entered in a high-pressure situation with runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth.
Trieglaff delivered. He struck out senior Tyler Neslony, who led Texas Tech in RBIs before the start of the game.
The reliever credited his outing to getting ahead in the count and keeping the Red Raiders off balance, saying he was “pretty happy” with his performance. Frog fans should be too.
The top of the batting order also deserves praise. Austen Wade battled to draw a crucial walk to start off the ninth inning. Cam Warner’s solo shot began the Frogs’ scoring efforts, and Schlossnagle said he was “really proud” of Evan Skoug’s at bat in the ninth.
Skoug avoided a potential game-ending double play with a single to left. That brought Baker to the plate, and the rest is history.
To Baker’s credit, he’s quick to say that Sunday’s win was a total team effort.
“They were the ones that put us in the position to win that game,” Baker said. “Trieg threw an amazing three and however many innings he threw, four innings, something like that. And Cam was the one that got our offense rolling and gave us the lead and put Trieg in a comfortable situation coming in.”
“And if those things don’t happen we probably don’t get on a roll there in the ninth inning. It’s neat to hear them talk about [Baker’s home run]. But if Austen Wade and Evan Skoug don’t get on right there I don’t get an at-bat. And everyone does something for the win.”
With the upsets of Florida and LSU, TCU is sitting in a nice spot heading into Tuesday’s matchup. With a win against Coastal Carolina, the Frogs are in the driver’s seat to reach the CWS finals for the first time in program history.