Horned Frogs defeat Ole Miss 5-3, sweep weekend in Houston

Humphreys and Merrill celebrate in TCUs win over Ole Miss on Sunday. (Photo courtesty of gofrogs.com)

Humphreys and Merrill celebrate in TCU’s win over Ole Miss on Sunday. (Photo courtesty of gofrogs.com)

By Branson Nelson

Jared Janczak threw seven shutout innings to fuel No. 1 TCU past No. 11 Ole Miss in the third and final game for the Horned Frogs at the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic in Houston.

The Frogs were the only one of the six teams in Houston to sweep the weekend, as they knocked off three top-15 SEC schools and moved to 6-0 at the tournament over the last two seasons.

“We enjoy the atmosphere, that’s for sure,” said head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “We’ve played in this thing, we’ll be back in 2019. I wish it guaranteed something, but it doesn’t. It was a great weekend.”

Janczak (3-0) continued to throw the ball exceptionally well for the Horned Frogs (10-1) on Sunday. A pitcher that usually pitches to contact and relies on his defense behind him, Janczak tallied a career-best 10 strikeouts against the Rebels (7-4). The Horned Frogs struck out a whopping 45 batters in three games over the weekend.

The Frogs relied on Janczak to go deep into Sunday’s game, after the bullpen was forced to throw 14.1 innings on Saturday night, into Sunday morning in an 11-10 win over Texas A&M.

“It was fun, especially being in this park, it felt good to have a strong outing,” Janczak said. “Coach ‘Schloss’ came to me in the middle of that A&M game and said we need you deep tomorrow, so that was my objective; to get quick outs and go deep in the game to save the bullpen.”

Janczak was in control from the beginning against the Rebels, as he threw a 1-2-3 first inning picking up one punch out, never looking back. He did give up a hit in the second inning and another hit plus a walk in the third, but with the way he was throwing, the threats didn’t do any damage.

A third Rebel hit was erased in the fourth inning when freshman catcher, Zach Humphreys, threw a bullet on the bag at second to catch Will Golsan stealing, ending the inning.

Janczak retired the next eight batters until a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh. After Golsan’s second hit of the day, Janczak got Tim Rowe to bounce out on the next pitch to end the inning.

On the other hand, the scoring got started for the Frogs in the top of the second inning, as Luken Baker led off the inning with a single. After he was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice that left Josh Watson on first, Ole Miss starting pitcher Brady Feigl (1-1) hit Nolan Brown with a pitch.

With two runners on and one out, Cam Warner lined a double down the right field line, scoring Watson and putting the Frogs in front for good. Warner now leads all Frogs with 13 RBIs. He is also the only Frog to have reached base in all 11 games this season.

The second and third runs scored on a wild pitch and a two-out RBI single by Humphreys.

The lead stayed put at 3-0 until there were two outs in the top of the fourth, when Saturday night’s walk-off hero Ryan Merrill scorched a ball just over the wall and into the right field bleachers for a solo home run, his first of the year.

TCU tacked on its fifth and final run in the sixth inning after Baker hit a triple off the wall to straightaway center field before crossing home on a run-scoring infield single by Watson.

Ole Miss went to the bullpen after Watson’s single, signaling the end of the night for Feigl. The Rebel’s starter went five innings, surrendering five runs on eight hits and four strikeouts.

Two Ole Miss relievers would come on to combine for four perfect innings and five strikeouts, keeping Ole Miss within striking distance.

Janczak ran into his first real trouble in the bottom of the eighth, when a walk, an errant pick-off throw and a single all with one out scored the Rebels’ first run of the game making the score 5-1. Ryan Burnett then came on to get the final two outs of the inning, but not before Colby Bortles cut the lead in half on a monster home run to left field.

Janczak’s final line was two runs, only one of them earned, on five hits and two walks in 7.1 innings.

“He was the perfect guy to pitch after last night because we were so thin in the bullpen. I felt like they would swing early enough in the count to give him a chance to pitch deep into the game,” Schlossnagle said. “When Janczak is pitching, you have to catch the ball behind him. He had a few more strikeouts today, but he is normally a groundball pitcher.”

Sophomore closer Durbin Feltman came on to get all three batters in the ninth, earning his third save of the season. Feltman was also the winning pitcher of Saturday night’s 15 inning game.

Despite having just two everyday players hitting better than .255 this season (Baker at .378 and Brown at .368), Schlossnagle is pleased with his team’s approach at the plate. “Our batting averages don’t show it, but the quality of our at-bats has been really good all the way through the lineup,” Schlossnagle said.

TCU will return to action at Lupton Stadium on Tuesday against the Dallas Baptist Patriots (8-3) at 6:30 p.m.