Derek Odell may just go ahead and change jersey numbers.
Odell homered and singled in a run in his first two at-bats on Saturday to give TCU a 2-0 lead in the regular-season finale against Baylor at Baylor Ballpark. Odell was wearing No. 36 because he left his usual No. 5 jersey in Fort Worth.
The new number might be going with him to the Big 12 tournament this week after the Horned Frogs finished the regular season with a 7-1 victory over the Bears.
TCU finished the season winning 23 of its past 26 games. The Frogs won their past seven weekend series and likely earned an NCAA Regional hosting bid.
No. 2-seeded TCU (38-15, 17-7 Big 12) opens the Big 12 tournament against seventh-seeded Baylor at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. The Bears (24-29, 8-15) plan to start Drew Tolson (3-5) against the Frogs. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle hadn’t decided on a starter Saturday night.
A strong showing in the tournament would cement a regional hosting bid and perhaps TCU’s first national seed should it win the Big 12 tournament title.
In the first inning, Odell homered to right field on a 1-1 pitch to give TCU a 1-0 lead. In the third, Cody Jones singled, moved to second when Baylor’s shortstop couldn’t handle the throw from the catcher on Jones’ steal attempt and scored on Odell’s looping single to left.
Odell moved to second on Baylor’s throw home and later moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Boomer White’s sacrifice fly in the third to give TCU a 3-0 lead. The Frogs built a 7-0 lead after adding four runs in the sixth. Odell finished the game 3 for 5 and was 7 for 15 in the series.
“I might stick with it,” Odell said of his new number. “I’m definitely going to take it to Oklahoma City. We’ll see if coach let’s me wear it.”
TCU freshman Tyler Alexander (8-3 ) threw another gem. He held Baylor to one run on four hits through six innings and struck out seven. Alexander has allowed only four runs in his past 33 innings since returning to the starting rotation on April 19.
“He throws strike one so much and pitches ahead in the count,” Schlossnagle said. “He has such presence and moxie. He was outstanding. He’s always ahead in the count, and it’s tough to hit that way.”
The Frogs added to their lead with four runs in the sixth inning. Dylan Fitzgerald’s bases-loaded single to left scored two runs, the second coming on a Baylor error in the outfield. Keaton Jones drove in Jerrick Suiter with a sacrifice fly, and Kyle Bacak scored Fitzgerald with a bunt single down the third-base line.
Baylor scored a run in the bottom of the sixth when White lost Brett Doe’s line drive in the lights. The ball deflected off his glove and rolled to the wall, allowing Doe a gift triple. Doe scored when second baseman Crain couldn’t cleanly field a double-play ball and had to settle for one out at first base.
Alexander, however, struck out the next better, Grayson Porter, freezing him with a breaking ball on a called strike three.
“We’re all locked in and ready to play,” Suiter said.