TCU shutout by Florida in CWS opener

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The Florida Gators’ starting pitcher Alex Faedo shutdown TCU 3-0 in the team’s 2017 College World Series opener on Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

“When you are facing a guy like that, you are just hoping he has an off night,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said of Faedo. “If he has his good stuff, you are really just going to have to pitch with him and then try to beat the bullpen. We couldn’t pitch with him enough.”

The No. 18 overall player in the 2017 MLB Draft got the start for Florida, and he lived up to lofty expectations. Faedo punched out 11 Horned Frogs, giving him the nation’s lead at 146, in seven shutout innings. The Frogs picked up just two hits while drawing two walks against the hard-throwing righty.

“[Faedo’s] got an outstanding breaking ball,” TCU first baseman Connor Wanhanen said. “We said that that was his best pitch going in. Whether it be lefties or righties, we were really trying to hunt the fastball because we knew that he could leave it up sometimes, and we could do some damage with it.”

TCU did threaten the Gators several times early, but a combination of base running miscues and strikeouts cost them early run production.

In the second inning, Cam Warner roped a single to left, but he was thrown out to end the inning when he strayed too far from the bag at first and was picked off by Florida catcher Mike Rivera.

In the third, TCU loaded the bases with one out on two walks and an error by shortstop Dalton Guthrie, but strikeouts by Zach Humphreys and Evan Skoug ended the threat.

The fourth inning started with promise for the Frogs as another error on Guthrie got Warner on first to open the inning, but he was thrown out trying to move up on a ball in the dirt during the next at bat. Nolan Brown added life to the inning with a one-out single, but he was ultimately picked off by Faedo to end the frame.

Faedo finished his outing by retiring 10 straight batters before being replaced by Michael Byrne to start the eighth inning. The Frogs picked up two singles off Byrne, but an Evan Williams pinch-hit strikeout stranded them both. TCU is now 1-23 on the season in pinch-hit opportunities. Byrne stayed on for the ninth and worked around a one-out double to pick up his 17th save. He is now tied with TCU closer Durbin Feltman for the NCAA lead.

TCU ace Jared Janczak took the ball for the Frogs, looking to match Florida’s star on the mound, but he struggled from the start. In his first loss of the season, Janczak walked a career-high five batters and allowed six hits and three runs in 4.0+ innings.

“Jared just had a bad night,” Schlossnagle said. “The guy has been money in the bank, when he has been healthy, the whole season.”

Entering Sunday’s game, Janczak had walked more than two batters in a game just once this season and had walked 19 hitters all year, but his lack of command cost the Frogs early. Two of his five walks scored, while all the walks helped inflate his pitch count to 87 by the time he was removed from the game.

“I’m not trying to walk people out there,” Janczak said. “That’s not my goal, but it happened and I have to take care of it. That’s about all I can do.”

Florida jumped in front in the bottom of the first when a leadoff walk scored after an error on Janczak and two ground outs.

In the second, Janczak worked around two walks but used 22 pitches to do it. The third started with a walk, but Janczak settled in to retire the next three batters quickly. The fourth saw a one-out walk come around to score after two singles.
Janczak returned to the mound in a 2-0 game in the fifth, but he was pulled in favor of freshman reliever Cal Coughlin when he gave up a run on three straight singles.

Coughlin, one of TCU’s top relievers, stepped up with two on base and no outs by striking out a batter and inducing a 5-4-3 double play. Third baseman Elliott Barzilli continued a solid season in the field by diving to make a stop on a hard ground ball to start the play.

After a scoreless sixth for Coughlin, another freshman, Haylen Green, came in and picked up the first 1-2-3 inning of the night in the seventh. A third freshman, Nick Lodolo, tossed a scoreless eighth to finish off the game for the Frogs.

“I was really proud,” Schlossnagle said of the bullpen. “That’s three freshmen that are going to be a big part of what we do in the coming years, and all three of them did great.”

TCU will move to the loser’s bracket to play Texas A&M Tuesday at 1 p.m., while Florida will play the nightcap Tuesday against Louisville. The Frogs will have to win four more in a row to make it all the way to the CWS finals.

“You always want to win the first game to put you in a good position,” Wanhanen said. “I think the depth that we have in the pitching staff and the experience we have on the position player side makes us built to do anything we want to do. Obviously, it’s going to be tough now, but we are excited to get back out there.”