But under the bright lights of Blue Bell Park, with a fiery Texas A&M crowd cheering the Frogs’ every misstep, Baker and Janczak looked as comfortable as could be while leading TCU to a crucial 8-2 win over the Aggies to open the College Station Super Regional.
Baker launched his fourth home run in postseason play, a three-RBI lined shot off the left field scoreboard in the 3rd inning, and Janczak threw 7.2 innings while allowing only two earned runs and working himself out of several jams throughout the game.
While the atmosphere was electric, Baker insisted postgame that he and his teammates didn’t hear too much of the chants — none of which were inappropriate — thrown their way.
“It’s just another ball game,” Baker said. “Before the game I was loving it, because it was all the students doing and saying the same stuff that I heard growing up.”
“But once the game started and the lights were on, it was go time.”
“Go time” for the Frogs meant scoring two runs in the opening half-inning, with an error on an Elliot Barzilli grounder scoring Evan Skoug and Cam Warner.
Janczak, however, would give up the lead in the bottom of the first on a double off the wall from Texas A&M catcher Michael Barash.
“I just felt like I was a little up in those first couple of innings, had a little adrenaline going,” Janczak said. “I realized that, and I tried to throw it in the bottom half of the strike zone and got more ground balls.”
The redshirt freshman righty’s outing was a throwback to dominant performances from Frog pitchers, and TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said he was very pleased with Janczak.
“They put a lot of good swings on him, but once he settled in and got the ball sinking and going down, he pitched really, really well,” Schlossnagle said.
After the dueling two-run first innings, TCU struck next with Baker’s home run, which came on a 1-2 pitch down and in from Aggie starter Brigham Hill.
“He made three really good pitches to get me to 1-2,” Baker said. “I got a pitch that I put a good swing on, and I didn’t know it right off the bat, but once I saw the left fielder’s back turn, I sort of had a feeling.”
Through the middle innings, Janczak was superb once he got his run support.
He found the strike zone and was able to get hitters behind in the count, all while the A&M crowd sarcastically serenaded him with chants of “Jaaaa-redddd” throughout the game.
Of course, around the sixth inning, it was the TCU fans down the right field line that were chanting his name out of sheer happiness. Janczak allowed just six hits all game.
The Frogs would tack on three more insurance runs in the 5th inning with a two-out rally. A wild pitch from Hill got past Barash, and Baker — not known for his speed — rumbled home all the way from second base to score.
“Speed on the bases,” Schlossnagle said with a grin after the game.
Ryan Merrill would double in two more runs later that inning to reach the final score of 8-2.
Ryan Burnett and Brian Trieglaff were solid in relief for the Frogs, as were Michael Kilkenny and Ryan Hendrix for Texas A&M.
Mitchell Traver will take the mound for TCU tomorrow as the Frogs try to lock down a trip to Omaha with a win. He’ll face off against Kyle Simonds.
First pitch is set for 8 p.m.