Baseball continues to keep simple focus during win streak

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TCU baseball has focused on three simple aspects of the game over the past couple weeks: pitching, defense and timely hitting.

These three elements have propelled the young team to a new level at the perfect time of the season head coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

Following the sweep at Baylor on Apr. 22, the Horned Frogs were at a low, sitting at 19-17 with postseason chances looking slim to none.

To make matters worse, the team lost their ace in Jared Janczak and most explosive hitter in Luken Baker for the season. Janczak recently had surgery to repair Thoracic Outlet Syndrome while Baker fractured his left fibula and tore a ligament in his left ankle.

“Those are definitely big losses,” sophomore pitcher Nick Lodolo said. “Everyone is doing their part. It would be great to have them, but we don’t. Everyone has to step up now and do our part.”

Since then, Schlossnagle’s squad has exploded for eight wins in their last nine ballgames.

“We got back home and we got some timely hits to get us going,” Schlossnagle said. “Some experience from Wanhanen and Watson started to show. These guys know where we are in the season and what has to happen for us to have any type of season in late May.”

In the midst of their current five-game win streak, pitching and defense hit an all-time high for any Schlossnagle-lead team in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs pitched 42.2 scoreless innings, the longest such streak under the head coach.

“The biggest thing that stands out to me is we’re not giving as many free bases as we were before,” Lodolo said. “Starters are pitching well and we have guys in the bullpen attacking the zone and doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.”

Jared Janczak deals toward home plate in a win over Kansas State. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto

Two starters who exploded during the win streak are sophomores Haylen Green and Jake Eissler. Coming out of the bullpen, sophomore reliever Cal Coughlin earned the first two saves of his career over the weekend.

He attributed the team’s current success to their confidence.

“We’re attacking and winning more of the little battles,” Coughlin said. “We’re taking it batter by batter and executing just like we should. It’s clicking and it’s paying off now.”

Coughlin concurred with Lodolo and said that each team member has begun to do their job and take accountability for themselves.

“I’ve always said our strength was going to be our pitching,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s tough to have this stretch without Janczak, but I’m super proud of how the guys who have been able to move into different spots and are playing well.”

While the win streak is exciting at the moment, Schlossnagle understands there is still a lot of baseball to be played this season.

“I wouldn’t make much of it yet,” Schlossnagle said. “Hopefully we can keep it up as we get into the fun part of the year.”

The Horned Frogs will look to keep their win streak alive this weekend as they host West Virginia for a three-game series at Lupton Stadium. The series will begin Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

Following a series victory over West Virginia to conclude the home portion of their schedule, the Horned Frogs will play their final four games away from Lupton Stadium. TCU will travel to face Stephen F. Austin Tuesday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m.