Luken Baker hit .500 last week in the Fort Worth Regional, but it was a quiet .500 — one double, no runs batted in.
This week is already loud.
The Horned Frogs’ freshman DH smashed a three-run homer to left field in the third inning, his fifth long ball since the regular season ended, as TCU defeated Texas A&M in Game 1 of a Super Regional series Friday at Blue Bell Park.
Baker’s home run was his ninth of the season, gave TCU a 5-2 lead and gave him 14 RBIs over the past nine games.
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He went into the game 20-for-32 in five games at the Big 12 tournament and three at the Fort Worth Regional.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at 8 p.m. Saturday. The series winner advances to the College World Series.
TCU is bidding for a third consecutive trip. Texas A&M has not been since 2011.
Baker singled in the fifth inning and scored from second base on a wild pitch when catcher Michael Barash couldn’t find the ball.
That gave the Frogs a 6-2 lead and got them into the A&M bullpen.
Against reliever Corbin Martin, Dane Steinhagen walked and A&M went to Mitchell Kilkenny to face Ryan Merrill.
The junior shortstop, hitting eighth in the order, doubled to the line in left field to score two runs for an 8-2 lead.
TCU right-hander Jared Janczak, a redshirt freshman from Belton making his second NCAA postseason start, pitched well with the lead. He gave up a two-run double in the first inning to Barash but retired 19 of the next 23 batters.
Janczak struck out only one through the first five innings, but he stayed out of trouble by retiring the first batter in each inning. Only in the first when a two-out walk was followed by Barash’s two-run double, did Janczak allow runs through the first five innings.
Janczak was coming off a strong outing in the Fort Worth Regional against Gonzaga when he allowed only three hits before a home run and a single chased him in the sixth inning.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said Janczak had been the staff’s most consistent strike-thrower of late, so he opted for him over postseason veteran Mitchell Traver for the Game 1 start.
Cam Warner and Evan Skoug singled with one out in the TCU first, and they scored following Baker’s walk when the Aggies couldn’t complete a double play. Shortstop Austin Homan’s relay was low and went out of play, and TCU led 2-0. Elliott Barzilli got an RBI.
Baker’s home run was the 51st for TCU this season. The Frogs came in 32-6 in games when they homered.
TCU is 1-10-1 in series at Texas A&M since 1974.
The Horned Frogs are 6-5 against the Aggies since the breakup of the Southwest Conference.
It was the fifth postseason game between the two teams. TCU won an NCAA Regional game in 2012 and won a Super Regional series last year two games to one.
All-time, Texas A&M has a 161-91-4 lead in the series.
Janczak, Trieglaff (8) and Skoug. Hill, Martin (5), Kilkenny (5) and Barash. W—Janczak. L—Hill. 2B—TCU: Merrill (9); Texas A&M: White (19), Barash (11). HR—TCU: Baker (9). SB—TCU: Warner, Watson, Steinhagen; Texas A&M: Homan. E—Texas A&M: Homan 2.
Records—TCU: 46-15; Texas A&M: 48-15.
TCU vs. Texas A&M
8 p.m. tonight, ESPN
8 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2 (if nec.)