By Tony Adams
It doesn’t matter if you bleed purple and white, red and black, burnt orange and white, green and gold or red and white, you cannot ignore the job that former Belton Tiger pitcher/centerfielder Jared Janczak is doing for Texas Christian University.
The four-year starter for the Tigers was red-shirted by TCU in 2015 and was told by pitching coach Kirk Saarloos that he should explore pitching for a junior college and TCU would pick him back up after his two years at the JUCO level.
Janczak said no, as he was a solid student for TCU and he did everything they asked him to do. That included playing in the Coastal Plains League in the summer of 2015 for the Wilson (NC) Tobs. He worked on his pitching and although 2-5 with a 5.82 earned run average in 12 games (11 starts) and 51 innings doesn’t grab you, the team-high 61 strikeouts got the attention of TCU.
He started this season in the bullpen and had made 19 appearances before getting the ball over the past six starts. Riding a 7-3 record with a 2.37 earned run average (team-lead) in 79 2/3 innings, Janczak has 77 strikeouts and has allowed just 21 earned runs. He also has a pickoff move that is one of the fastest and most lethal in the country.
His game has really taken flight in the postseason. He had a quality start against Kansas State, where he struck out four batters in five innings, allowing a run on three hits in 71 pitches. He picked up a 9-3 win.
He also threw a solid game against Texas, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing a run and scattering eight hits. He struck out four batters on 93 pitches before giving way to the bullpen. The Longhorns scratched out a walk-off hit to edge the Horned Frogs 2-1.
In his next start in the regional round, he threw 91 pitches, giving up three runs on five hits, walking one and striking out seven. He left the game in the sixth inning trailing 3-2, but TCU rallied with two runs in the eighth inning to win 4-3.
The national audience got its first look at Janczak when TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle gave him the ball in the super regional against Texas A&M in Aggieland. He gave up two runs in the first inning and then didn’t allow a runner to pass first until the eighth inning. His line in the ballgame: 7 2/3 innings pitched, two earned runs, six hits, three walks, four strikeouts and 119 pitches. Most importantly: the win.
He got the ball in TCU’s first game on Sunday against Texas Tech, a familiar rival, at the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
The game was a vast change for Janczak, who watched the game on his phone in 2015. It was tremendously hot and humid day in Omaha and Janczak pitched beautifully through in. Schlossnagle lifted his hurler after 88 pitches with one out in the fifth inning. His line in the ballgame: 4 2/3 innings pitches, two runs allowed (one earned), six hits, walked one, hit two batters and struck out eight batters. That sweeping curveball and two-seem fastball kept Red Raider hitters on their toes all game. TCU got a go-ahead three-run home run from Luken Baker to knock off their Big 12 rival 5-3.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Mills, Janczak’s eight strikeouts in less than five innings was only the fifth time in the last 30 years of the College World Series that the feat had been accomplished.
According to Janczak’s parents, Michael and Kristi Janczak, Jared is planning on taking classes this summer before heading back to TCU in the fall. But there is a lot of baseball left to play before that time.
The national stage, along with Janczak’s constant improvement and another season at TCU should boost his draft stock, putting him in a good position for the Major League Baseball draft in 2017.