After one pitch, which missed, TCU right-hander Jared Janczak said he knew he was going to have a good day.
He made a quick adjustment to his release point and proceeded to throw eight hitless innings with a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 5-1 victory against Kansas on Saturday at Lupton Stadium. He exited after two clean singles past the mound to open the ninth inning spoiled his no-hit bid.
“Yeah, I mean, of course,” he said, asked if he thought he was going to record what would have been TCU’s 10th no-hitter all time, but only the second by one pitcher over nine innings. “But I’m just glad we won the game. That’s what we were really looking for.”
Ryan Merrill’s bloop RBI single, Austen Wade’s two-run single and Evan Skoug’s two-run double in the seventh inning broke open a scoreless game as No. 3 TCU (14-4, 2-0) clinched the Big 12-opening series against the Jayhawks (8-10, 0-2).
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Jared Janczak struck out 14 of the first 25 batters he faced, using 94 pitches in eight hitless innings.
Janczak, a junior from Belton, retired the first 22 batters in improving to 5-0. He lost the perfect game when Jaxx Groshans reached on a throwing error at shortstop. Merrill went to his right for a hard ground ball in the hole, fielded it cleanly, but his throw short-hopped the glove of Luken Baker.
Janczak finished the inning with his 13th and 14th strikeouts and returned to the mound in the ninth inning at 94 pitches. His first pitch was laced past him into center field by pinch hitter Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi, and the next was sent to the same spot by Owen Taylor.
That finished Janczak’s outing. He and coach Jim Schlossnagle embraced on the mound, and Janczak left to an ovation from 4,904 at Lupton Stadium. Trey Morris recorded the final three outs, allowing one inherited runner to score.
“I said, ‘Man, I’m so proud of you,” Schlossnagle said of his visit with Janczak. “Appreciate your effort. Go and enjoy the crowd.”
That Janczak did.
“It was great being back in Lupton,” he said. “That was the biggest thing for me. I was tired of being on the road for two weeks. It was good to come back here and play in front of our crowd and having a good time.”
I’ve got to tip my cap to Jared. That was probably the best I’ve seen him throw.
TCU catcher Evan Skoug, on pitcher Jared Janczak
Janczak got eight of his strikeouts looking thanks to a slider that bent and dived seemingly on command.
“The umpire was giving me a little bit, so I was working with what he gave me,” said Janczak, 7-1 in 12 career starts at TCU. “I got to expand a little bit on my stuff.”
Skoug said he thought the no-hitter was going to happen.
“I’ve got to tip my cap to Jared. That was probably the best I’ve seen him throw,” Skoug said. “He was hitting all his locations, and he really had command of all three of his pitches. Either going in, going out, breaking ball, changeup, he had command of it. That’s how we teach to pitch right there.”
Turski, Villines (7), Sotomayor (8) and Groshans. Janczak, Morris (9) and Skoug. W—Janczak (5-0). L—Turski (1-2). 2B—TCU: Skoug (2). SB—TCU: Barzilli (2), Merrill (5). LOB—KU 3; TCU: 5. E—KU: McLaughlin (3); TCU: Merrill (5). T—2:25. A—4,904. RECORDS—Kansas 8-10, 0-2 Big 12; TCU 14-4, 2-0 Big 12.
No. 3 TCU vs. Kansas
1 p.m. Sunday (FSSW Plus)