Michael Landestoy, an injury replacement early in Friday’s series opener against Southern Cal, delivered the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning and then two more runs in the eighth as TCU broke open a tight game for an 8-3 victory, the Horned Frogs’ fourth in a row.
The lanky 6-foot-3 sophomore from the Dominican Republic reached across the plate and slapped a 1-2 pitch into right field to give the Frogs a 4-3 lead after they surrendered a 3-1 cushion in the top of the seventh.
TCU then added insurance runs with back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning from Josh Watson, his third of the season, and third baseman Elliott Brazilli, who also crushed his third.
Landestoy, who took over at first base for Connor Wanhanen, then blew it open with a two-run single. Landestoy, who was 2 for 5 with two RBIs in the season’s first 12 games, finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
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Michael just sits over here all the time and is nothing but a great teammate and then got rewarded for it.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle on Michael Landestoy
Wanhanen tweaked a hamstring in the first inning, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
“Michael just sits over here all the time and is nothing but a great teammate and then got rewarded for it,” Schlossnagle said.
The No. 7 Horned Frogs fought off sloppy pitching and then rode the late offensive surge to their 11th win in 13 games, and dropped USC to 6-6. The teams meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday.
TCU’s four-run eighth inning was in direct contrast to how the Frogs scored their first three runs. Two runs in the second inning and another in the fifth all came on infield groundouts.
While the Frogs’ bats couldn’t break it open early, their arms, while hardly efficient with six walks and two hit batters, did prevent USC from making it an uphill struggle with key outs in critical situations. The Trojans stranded a runner at third base in the third, fourth and fifth innings, and hit into three double plays.
They took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in a dangerous first inning for TCU’s 6-foot-4, 265-pound right-handed Luken Baker. The freshman, who is also the team’s cleanup hitter, mostly manufactured his own trouble through the first three innings, including a high-and-wide passed ball that allowed the first-inning run to score.
His best Houdini job came in the third. After hitting his fifth batter of the season, he got USC cleanup hitter Timmy Robinson to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play, leaving a runner at third with two outs. He then issued one of his two walks to put runners at the corners before striking out Dillon Paulson to end the inning.
Baker, who lowered his season ERA from 1.04 to 0.71, lasted one batter into the fifth inning, giving up a leadoff single on his 81st pitch of the game.
The Trojans finally broke through in the seventh against redshirt freshman right-hander Jared Janczak, who struck out USC’s No. 3 and 4 hitters with runners on second and third before giving up a two-run double to deep right to AJ Ramirez to tie it 3-3.
The earned runs were the first that TCU pitchers allowed in 30 consecutive innings. Janczak got the win to improve to 2-1.
Three TCU relievers — Preston Guillory, Brian Trieglaff and Ryan Burnett — closed out the final two innings, allowing a pair of walks and no hits.