TCU senior Cody Jones knows the drill at the leadoff position — get on base, score runs.
But he believes he can do more when the situation calls for it, such as drive in runs.
His single and two-run home run against Santa Clara last week gave him a career-high 21 RBIs. He also has a career high in home runs with three, he’s matched his career-high in doubles with nine, and he’s first on the team with a career best in slugging (.490).
Those are middle-of-the-order numbers, but Jones hasn’t sacrificed his ability to reach base. His .354 average and .451 on-base percentage are both second on the team, and he’s No. 1 in stolen bases (16).
“I feel like I can contribute more than just getting on base and trying to be there when our big guys get the big hits,” he said. “When there’s guys on base, I’m trying to get them in, too. The more guys you’re going to have squaring up balls in big situations, the better.”
Coach Jim Schlossnagle is glad to see it. He said Jones has worked to make himself a better run producer.
“If you can say there was a downfall of the Omaha team last year, some guys at the bottom of the order, mainly Keaton Jones and Kyle Bacak, were hitting near .300, getting on base all the time,” Schlossnagle said. “Cody had a lot of opportunities last year where he didn’t drive them in. He’s worked really hard. Coach Mo [Bill Mosiello] has done a great job with him.”
Teammates have noticed the extra punch from Jones, a career .267 hitter and .327 slugger coming into the season.
“Tremendous,” right fielder Nolan Brown said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he does even more. He hits everything. It’s a show for us just to see what he does hitting-wise and on the bases.”
Tyler Alexander will pitch the series opener against Texas, having earned a spot in the weekend rotation with dominating performances in the past two weeks against Dallas Baptist and UT Arlington.
The sophomore left-hander from Southlake Carroll struck out 14 and walked two in 15 innings in those starts. For the season, he has 43 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings and only three walks.
Schlossnagle said Mitchell Traver, who has started the Friday games all season, remains in the rotation and will pitch Tuesday at No. 16 Dallas Baptist, the No. 2 RPI team in the nation.
“Not a demotion at all for Traver,” Schlossnagle said.
Alexander pitched five innings in a no-decision at Texas on April 19 last year.
The series against Santa Clara gave Schlossnagle a chance to give innings to relievers Brian Trieglaff, Travis Evans and Preston Guillory.
Trieglaff pitched 3 2/3 innings on Saturday, falling one out shy of a save because of weather. Sunday, Evans struck out three of the four batters he faced, and Guillory struck out two of the four he faced.
“That was real exciting to see a guy come in and throw that many strikes, kind of change the look with his arm slot, throw upper 80s, touching 91,” Schlossnagle said of Guillory. “Sometimes you see some things late in the season that can help you down the road.”
The Santa Clara series also gave the Horned Frogs a chance to look at the routine for doubleheaders — twice in fact.
A rainout of Game 1 forced a Saturday doubleheader. But when Game 2 couldn’t be completed because of a storm threat, it was finished on Sunday ahead of Game 3.
“Everybody knows I’m not a fan of doubleheaders, but when you get into conference tournament play or regional tournament play and get into the loser’s bracket, you’re going to have to play those,” Schlossnagle said. “So it was really good prep for us if we get into a situation like that later in the season.”
Texas back again
Texas returns for only its second visit to Fort Worth for baseball since the breakup of the Southwest Conference.
TCU won a three-game series at Lupton Stadium in 2013.
“They’re the preeminent historic program in the state,” Schlossnagle said. “With the best coach in the history of our sport, at least the most successful coach. Always exciting to have them here.”
Texas coach Augie Garrido has an NCAA baseball-record 1,939 wins and has led his teams to 15 College World Series appearances.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760
Texas at No. 5 TCU
Records: TCU 31-8, 7-5 Big 12; Texas 22-19, 8-7
▪ 6:30 p.m. Friday, TCU’s Tyler Alexander (3-2, 2.92) vs. Parker French (2-2, 2.09), FSSW Plus
▪ 4 p.m. Saturday, TCU’s Preston Morrison (8-1, 1.81) vs. Ty Culbreth (3-2, 2.60), FSSW
▪ 1 p.m. Sunday, TCU’s Alex Young (7-2, 1.67) vs. TBA, FSSW