Last year’s leading home run hitter and run producer, Baker, picked up where he left off at the end of the 2016 season. A first inning three-run home run gave him the team lead in homers (3), RBIs (8) and runs (10) through six games.
Baker’s round tripper gave the Frogs (5-1) a 3-1 lead, one they would hold on to for the rest of the game.
The biggest story of the night was senior designated hitter Evan Williams. Williams recorded his first two hits since a pinch-hit single in the College World Series against Vanderbilt on June 16th, 2015. Williams sat out all of the 2016 season with injuries to both arms after an off-the-field injury a month before the 2016 opener.
“Last year I was driving to the Alamo bowl, and I got in a car accident. I had two surgeries, one on my left collarbone and one on my right shoulder. At one point I didn’t think I was going to be able to throw ever again,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m the hardest working kid in the country, and it just shows up on the field. You’re not deserved anything, you’re not owed anything, but I think I earned whatever I get the rest of the season.”
Williams broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh when he drove a line drive into the left-center field ally with the bases loaded, scoring three runs and putting the Frogs ahead 8-1.
“Evan’s a big part of our club, he’s a great teammate and guys route for him,” Schlossnagle said. “I’m always going to be looking for opportunities to get him in the game.”
Williams went 2-3 on the night, with a walk, two stolen bases, one run and three runs batted in.
Williams seemed relieved to finally be back on the field helping his team win. “It felt really, really good,” Williams said. “To be able to come out here and help the team is exciting.”
Freshman Nick Lodolo made his second career start and recorded his second win in five innings pitched. Lodolo struggled out of the gate, loading the bases in the first inning with one out. He managed to limit the damage though, surrendering his only run of the night on a sacrifice fly by Arizona State (4-2) DH Tyler Williams.
Lodolo continued to let runners reach base over the next several innings, as Arizona State stranded nine runners in the first four innings alone, a number that reached 14 by the end of the game.
Fellow freshman Charles King came in from the bullpen in the top of the sixth, relieving Lodolo after five innings of work in which he allowed the lone run on four hits, four walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts. Lodolo’s ERA now sits at 2.40 through two appearances.
“Nick made some really good pitches when he had to make them,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Once he started getting his breaking ball in the strike zone, they had to respect it. Then he could beat them with his fastball.”
King inherited a 4-1 lead in the sixth. The fourth run came courtesy of a RBI double from Elliott Barzilli in the fourth inning. King tossed scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, striking out four.
King returned to the mound for the eighth inning in an 8-1 game. After setting down the first two batters, King allowed the next five Sun Devils to reach base, giving up three runs in the process. The runs broke a 7.2 scoreless innings streak that began King’s career.
Sophomore Sean Wymer came in to pick up the final four outs and record his first career save to secure a Horned Frog win.
After scoring eight runs on Saturday, the Frogs are averaging 8.5 runs per game. TCU has converted on 17 out of 20 stolen base tries, led by leadoff hitter Austen Wade, who has four.
Despite the high-scoring offensive start, the team’s average sits at just .250, well below the .302 clip from last season.
TCU returns to Lupton Stadium on Sunday as they will face Arizona State in a rubber match at 1 p.m.