No. 16 TCU explodes for five home runs in 17-9 blowout of GCU


Photo by Jack Wallace

By Colin Post

The Horned Frogs offensive explosion evened the series with GCU. Photo by Jack Wallace

After going down 5-0 in the top of the third inning, TCU baseball smashed five home runs and collected 16 hits to finish with a resounding 17-9 win over Grand Canyon University Saturday.

“We just came together as a team, won pitch to pitch,” center fielder Johnny Rizer said. “Coming back after yesterday, it’s huge. We just gotta bring it tomorrow.”

Eight Horned Frogs finished with at least one hit in the game, as Rizer led the way with three. He finished 3-for-4, coming just a double away from completing the cycle.

After struggling offensively in a 4-1 loss to the Lopes Friday night, the Horned Frogs seemed to be headed for a repeat of the previous night at the start of Saturday’s matchup. Starter Jared Janczak was pulled after just 2.1 innings after giving up two runs and four hits. 

TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said after the game that past injuries have caused Janczak to struggle early this season.

At the midway point of the third inning, GCU had dashed out to a commanding 5-0 lead behind five hits.

Then, TCU reliever Jake Eissler took over for the Horned Frogs. After giving up a three-run homer to Lopes’ catcher David Avitia in the top of the third inning, Eissler retired the next 16 batters he faced.

The Littleton, Colorado native finished with 5.2 innings pitched, three earned runs, one hit, zero walks and seven strikeouts. It looks like he will be a major weapon for the Horned Frogs, as he pitched 5.1 shutout innings just six days earlier against No. 1 Vanderbilt.

“He was our best pitcher at the end of the season last year, and he’s picked up right where he left off,” Schlossnagle said. “He has a starter’s mentality.”

Meanwhile, the bats that had seemed dead for 11 innings came alive. TCU scored six runs on five hits in the bottom of the third inning, sparking a 17-0 run by the Horned Frogs over the next five innings.

Leading the charge was catcher Zach Humphreys. He had his first two hits of the season in the victory via the long-ball. The first was a bomb over the left field wall in the sixth, while the second came just one inning later and barely evaded the glove of GCU centerfielder Preston Pavlica over the outfield wall.

“It’s good for him [Humphreys] because he’s a really big part of our team,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s a great defender and he’s a good offensive player.

Humphreys entered the contest 0-for-11 on the season.

The Lopes made a small run with four runs scored on four hits in the top of the ninth inning, but the Horned Frogs had already built up a large enough lead to secure the victory.

“I felt like every single run was important,” Schlossnagle said. “I didn’t really feel great about the game until Humphreys’ second home run.”

First baseman Jake Guenther finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in while second baseman Austin Henry added a home run and four runs scored.

TCU will return to action on Sunday, Feb. 24, as they wrap up the series with GCU. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Lupton Stadium.