OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Luken Baker is showing no signs of cooling off at the College World Series.
TCU’s freshman star homered to right in his first time at bat to start the Horned Frogs off in a 6-1 victory over Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night that put them within one win of next week’s finals. On Sunday, Baker won the Frogs’ CWS opener against Texas Tech with a ninth-inning homer to left.
“I got a fastball up and away I could handle and put a good swing on it, and I was a little more excited for this one than a few of the ones I’ve had in the past because it was my first opposite-field one,” Baker said.
The Big 12 freshman of the year singled in his other two at-bats. He has hit seven of his 11 homers in the last 13 games and is 29 of 52 (.558) over that stretch.
Baker’s bat has helped the Frogs (49-16) win their first two CWS games for the first time in four appearances.
The Chanticleers (50-17), who beat No. 1 national seed Florida 2-1 in their first-ever CWS game on Sunday, pushed across a run in the sixth inning but otherwise didn’t do much against Brian Howard and Ryan Burnett.
“My frustration is even though we won a game, we had to have a heroic pitching effort to get it done,” Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. “We’re a better team than we’ve shown. Hopefully we can come back Thursday and show people how we actually got here.”
TCU scored two unearned runs in the fifth following third baseman Zach Remillard’s throwing error, and a run came home in the sixth on Dane Steinhagen’s double-play grounder. Michael Landestoy tripled in a run and scored on an error to make it a five-run game in the ninth.
“We took advantage of some free bases they gave us,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I thought Burnett was the story of the game. Having not pitched that much, and to pitch that length, what he gave us out of the bullpen was outstanding.”
Howard (10-2) pitched 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. The 17th-round draft pick of the Houston Astros allowed a run, six hits and a walk. He struck out seven.
Burnett, who has battled health issues throughout his career, allowed no hits in 3 1/3 shutout innings. He entered in the sixth with two runners on in a 4-1 game. He got Tyler Chadwick to fly out on his first pitch to end the inning.
“Right now we’re 4 for 4 on guys coming out of the bullpen and getting the first guy out,” Schlossnagle said. “That’s important in any game, but it’s really important here with the great offenses Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina have.”
Coastal Carolina starter Alex Cunningham (9-4) lasted 4 1/3 innings. He gave up three runs, one earned, four hits and two walks.
The Chanticleers came in with a nation-leading 94 home runs but have not hit one through two CWS games.
“We’ve shown time and time again that we can have a bad game and put it on some people the next game,” G.K. Young said. “I’m not worried about this game. We haven’t shown our ability to hit in this ballpark and I think it’s coming.”
BIG 12 PRIDE
TCU’s victory makes the Big 12 the third conference to have two teams win their first two games in a CWS. Oklahoma State is also 2-0.
Florida and South Carolina both started 2-0 for the Southeastern Conference in 2011, and Arkansas and Texas were 2-0 for the old Southwest Conference in 1979.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and SEC — the top two leagues in the country this season — had their representatives (Miami, Florida) go 0-2 in the same CWS for the first time since 1984.
TCU plays in the Bracket 2 final Friday against the winner of a Thursday elimination game between Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech.