TCU landed a daily double on Sunday in the form of landmark victory No. 518 for coach Jim Schlossnagle and the successful formal debut of the baseball program’s shiny new piece, Luken Baker.
Baker earned the home crowd’s rousing acclamation in his pitching debut, retiring 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced in earning his first collegiate victory. He also connected on his first career home run, a two-run shot in the fifth, in the Horned Frogs’ 5-0 shutout over Loyola Marymount at Lupton Stadium.
Jim Schlossnagle became the program’s all-time winningest coach in his 13th season at TCU, surpassing Lance Brown, a former player who led the team from 1986-2003.
The Frogs (2-1) won two of three over the Lions, while Schlossnagle became the program’s all-time winningest coach in his 13th season at TCU, surpassing Lance Brown, a former player who led the team from 1986-2003.
“I’m just glad we won a series,” said Schlossnagle, who was presented the game ball by Chancellor Victor Boschini and athletic director Chris Del Conte. “I don’t want to downplay the significance [of the coaching milestone] because it is pretty neat.
“I’m at a place really committed to highest level of winning in college baseball. Coach Brown didn’t have that same support. He played here. This program belongs to him and the players who have played here. It doesn’t belong to me.”
Brown coached one season at Lupton Stadium, desperately needed at the time and the first significant step in TCU becoming a now three-time College World Series participant under Schlossnagle.
This program belongs to him and the players who have played here. It doesn’t belong to me.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle praising Lance Brown, who he passed as the school’s all-time winning baseball coach
Lupton is one reason TCU has become a destination for recruits such as Baker, last season’s Gatorade National High School Player of the Year at Conroe Oak Ridge, who was splendid in just about every way on Sunday.
Baker, a rare player in college baseball circles who not only pitches and hits, but hits cleanup, gave up one hit and a walk and struck out six in an efficient 76 pitches over six innings.
He hit two batters, including the leadoff hitter in the sixth and walked another in that inning, his only brush with difficulty. But he recorded outs on the next two hitters to escape unscathed and a 3-0 lead secured.
“He pitched like that in his last intrasquad start but hadn’t pitched like that beforehand,” Schlossnagle said. “When the lights came on … it was impressive to see.”
I’ve been waiting for this for a long time … just went out there and did what I knew I was capable of.
Luken Baker, who pitched six strong innings and hit a two-run home run
Baker caught a hanging curveball off right-handed reliever Steven Skolarz in the fifth and drove the ball over the left-center field wall.
“It was a good day,” Baker said. “I just tried to make sure I was as prepared as I could be and things worked out.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time … just went out there and did what I knew I was capable of.”
Evan Skoug, normally behind the plate but at first with the usual first baseman, Baker, on the mound, had a sacrifice fly to account for TCU’s first run in the third, driving in Connor Wanhanen, who tripled with one out.
Mason Hesse’s two-run single eighth padded the Frogs’ lead.
Third baseman Elliott Barzilli reached base three more times, going 3-for-4 with a double. He’s 7-for-11 to start the season.
“When we’re healthy I love the depth of our lineup,” Schlossnagle said. “The bottom of our lineup really was strong [this weekend]. That makes you tough to pitch to.”
Cohen, Skolarz (5), Simon (6), Watkins (8) and Brown. Baker, Burnett (7), Guillory (7), Feltman (8), Brown (9), Trieglaff (9) and Plunkett, Skoug (7). W—Baker (1-0). L—Cohen (0-1). 2B—LMU: Erdman (2); TCU: Barzilli (1), Plunkett (1). 3B—TCU: Wanhanen (1). HR—TCU: Baker (1). HBP—LMU: Whalen, Christian, Decolati. SF—TCU: Skoug (1). LOB—LMU 7; TCU 8. CS—TCU: Hesse (1). E—LMU: Erdman (1). Time—3:00. A—3,687. RECORDS—Loyola Marymount 1-2; No. 11 TCU 2-1.