Jared Janczak wrote his name in TCU baseball annals last year with a victory in Game 1 of a Super Regional at Texas A&M.
He’s followed up with an undefeated season that has earned him a second consecutive opening start at the College World Series and a chance to put his name alongside some of TCU’s best-known Omaha performers: Purke, Finnegan, Morrison.
“He probably wouldn’t admit it, but he probably knows deep down he’s already amongst those guys as one of the best to walk through here, and always will be,” pitcher Mitchell Traver said. “He’s earned it. We’re all super proud of him, we’re super glad to see him doing well, and obviously we’re glad he’s on our team.”
Matthew Purke won twice for TCU at the College World Series in 2010 as part of his 16-0 freshman season. Brandon Finnegan became the first player to pitch in a College World Series and Major League World Series in the same year when he did it in 2014 for TCU and then the Kansas City Royals. Preston Morrison won the CWS opener for the Frogs in 2015 and holds the school record for innings pitched.
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Janczak, a redshirt sophomore from Belton, takes a 9-0 record and 1.97 earned-run average into Sunday’s 6 p.m. start against Florida. He could be TCU’s first pitcher to reach double-digit wins without a loss since Purke.
“Oh yeah, if he keeps this up, he’s building his name as one of the best pitchers to ever walk through these doors,” catcher Evan Skoug said.
Janczak will get the ball Sunday night against Florida junior Alex Faedo (7-2, 2.55), the 18th player selected in Monday’s first round of the Major League draft and No. 8 in the country in strikeouts (135).
It’s a high-profile matchup, but Janczak’s seen that before.
“He’ll handle it great,” Schlossnagle said. “He matched up well with Virginia’s pitcher. We’ve played a great schedule. He’ll do well.”
Janczak started two CWS games a year ago and repeated as a Super Regional Game 1 winner this year.
“The guy came in last year [after] not starting all year and then started Game 1 of the Super Regionals and Game 1 of the College World Series and flat-out dealt,” Skoug said.
Last year, Janczak learned his CWS assignment on the field in the celebration following the Super Regional series win at A&M.
This year, no one had to tell him.
“Jared, for the last year and a half, has had a routine set, a weekly routine in terms of how he’s going to get ready to start games,” pitching coach Kirk Saarloos said. “And now I think that’s a foregone conclusion. He knows he’s always going to start the first game right now.”
Only three starting pitchers have won a College World Series game for TCU — Purke defeated Florida State and UCLA in 2010, Morrison beat LSU in 2015, and Brian Howard beat eventual champion Coastal Carolina last year.
Janczak began his TCU career redshirting, and even at the start of 2016, TCU wasn’t sure of its plan for him.
But he was sure. He was going to win a rotation spot.
Opportunities like Sunday are the result.
“That’s something I came here to do, to be in the starting rotation,” Janczak said. “I didn’t come not to play. This is what I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. This is what I’ve always wanted to do at TCU.”
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 4 Florida
6 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)
College World Series, Omaha, Neb.