No. 16 baseball tops Virginia, No. 1 Vanderbilt, in MLB4 Tournament

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The state of Arizona has treated the Horned Frogs well as of late.

TCU football defeated the California Golden Bears in the Cheez-It Bowl in December, and this weekend TCU baseball overcame a Friday loss to No. 18 California State Fullerton to defeat Virginia and No. 1 Vanderbilt to go 2-1 in the MLB4 Tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend.

“I believe it will be the most heavily scouted tournament in the history of college baseball,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said of the tournament before the team’s first practice. “You have four great programs, four programs that are full of high draft picks at the forefront of spring training when there’s really not much going on. We’ll see GMs and managers and scouts, it will be great exposure for our players.”

Ninth-inning rally falls short as baseball drops season opener

Two early runs from No. 18 California State Fullerton proved to be the difference maker in the contest as TCU’s bats weren’t able to come alive in Friday’s season opener, falling 2-0 despite outhitting the Titans.

The Horned Frogs were able to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Austin Henry’s hit to the warning track was caught and unable to bring Josh Watson and Alex Isola home. Isola reached base on a single, and Watson was walked.

Fullerton was able to jump to an early one-run lead in the second inning off a Daniel Cope home run. Fullerton’s second run came in the third inning on a two-out single from Sahid Valenzuela.

The Frogs threatened in the top of the third inning with runners on the corners and one out, but Fullerton’s starter Tanner Bibee stranded both on base. He finished the game with six hits allowed, four strikeouts and three walks in six innings pitched.

In total, TCU left 12 runners on base, eight of which were in scoring position. The Frogs got a runner on base in every inning except the first two and left two runners on base in four separate innings.

Junior pitcher Nick Lodolo got the starting nod and allowed two earned runs on five hits in five innings pitched. He fanned two Titans and walked one. Junior Charles King relieved Lodolo in the sixth and allowed only three hits with three strikeouts in three innings pitched.

Lodolo worked with pitching coach Kirk Saarloos to change his release.

“They changed his mechanics a little bit,” catcher Zach Humphreys said. “Everything’s a lot more fluid, comes out easier so he has a lot more control over his pitches. In the past, he’s kinda struggled with that. I think his stuff’s a lot sharper.”

King worked out of a two-out jam with two Titans in scoring position in the eighth inning to keep the game within striking distance.

Horned Frogs rebound as bats come alive

In a completely different performance from Friday, the team rode an offensive explosion in the third and fourth innings to cruise past Virginia, 9-4.

Jared Janczak earned the first start of his senior season and allowed two runs on two hits in four innings pitched. He also walked three and struck out three.

The Frogs opened the scoring in the third inning with a Porter Brown double down the left field line. Hunter Wolfe reached on a lead-off walk and scored on Brown’s double. Brown scored on a double from Watson and scored on a Jake Guenther groundout.

“He’s a really dynamic athlete, has some power and he’s fun to watch. He can really do some things,” Schlossnagle said of Wolfe before the team’s first official practice of the season.

Watson and Brown accounted for four hits each and five combined RBIs.

TCU’s next four runs all came with two outs as the Horned Frogs opened up a 7-0 lead. Back-to-back walks to Bobby Goodloe and Wolfe kept the inning alive, and Brown’s third hit of the game drove in Goodloe. Watson added a two-run single before scoring on a Henry base hit.

Virginia was able to claw back in the fifth inning with four walks and a wild pitch from Spencer Arrighetti, and a two-run single from Brendan Rivoli trimmed TCU’s lead to four.

Augie Mihlbauer earned the win in relief by striking out two and walking two. He allowed one hit in 1.2 innings pitched.

TCU answered with a run in the bottom of the inning as Humphreys scored on a one-out single from Andrew Keefer and added another in the eighth inning as Brown scored on a Guenther groundout.

Baseball storms past No. 1 Vanderbilt, 10-2 

In Schlossnagle’s 650th career win, the Horned Frogs scored early and often as they routed top-ranked Vanderbilt in Sunday’s finale of the MLB4 Tournament.

The first inning set the tone for the game as Brown beat out an infield single to begin the game. Brown scored on a Watson double to left field. Watson scored on a Guenther ground out, and Isola capped the inning with a base hit to left field.

After the Commodores trimmed TCU’s lead to two runs with back-to-back doubles, Henry drove in Wolfe, and Brown scored on a sacrifice fly from Guenther. Johnny Rizer led off the third inning and scored TCU’s sixth run of the game on a Goodloe base hit.

“He’s a super dynamic player,” Schlossnagle said of Rizer. “He got hurt in the first game last year and had to sit four weeks, and I really feel like that hurt his development. He can run, he has some big power and he’s a guy who I think could be a sneaky draft pick and end up playing in the big leagues one day.”

The Frogs kept pouring in the offense as they scored three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. A two-out, two-run double from Henry pushed the lead to 8-2, and Guenther’s base hit drove in Henry to make it 9-2.

In his first career start for TCU, Brandon Williamson limited the Commodores to one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. Jake Eissler relieved Williamson in the fourth and finished the game with allowing only one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Eissler retired the final nine batters he faced.

“He definitely has potential to do that,” Janczak said of Williamson. “He has good stuff. As long as his hips are feeling good, I think he’ll have a chance to pitch and throw a lot of innings here.”

The Horned Frogs will open up their 2019 home schedule at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Lupton Baseball Stadium against Abilene Christian.