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Baker dazzles hometown crowd in TCU victory

Texas Tech, Arkansas also get second wins in College Classic
Special to MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Texas Tech, Arkansas and TCU earned their second wins Saturday, Day 2 of the three-day Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at the Astros' Minute Maid Park.

The annual NCAA invitational showcase, which includes No. 11 TCU, No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 18 Houston, No. 22 Arkansas, No. 24 Rice and unranked Texas Tech, concludes with three games Sunday.

HOUSTON -- Texas Tech, Arkansas and TCU earned their second wins Saturday, Day 2 of the three-day Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at the Astros' Minute Maid Park.

The annual NCAA invitational showcase, which includes No. 11 TCU, No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 18 Houston, No. 22 Arkansas, No. 24 Rice and unranked Texas Tech, concludes with three games Sunday.

Here is a breakdown of the Day 2 action:

Talent on display at Shriners College Classic

Game 1
Texas Tech edges Louisiana-Lafayette in 10

Texas Tech came into the College Classic as perhaps the least regarded of the six NCAA baseball teams playing.

The Red Raiders shouldn't be taken lightly. On Saturday, Texas Tech rallied past Louisiana-Lafayette, 5-3, in 10 innings, for its second win of the event.

"We're tough, we're not giving up," said Ryan Long, whose two-run, two-out double in the top of the 10th broke a 3-3 tie. "We're playing every inning hard. We're not taking any innings off."

Texas Tech (6-1) tied the game with a run in the ninth. In the 10th, Long doubled down the right-field line, scoring Eric Gutierrez and Zach Davis.

"You knew it was going to come down to somebody getting a two-out hit," Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. "It was a good game, either way it went.

"Ryan, it's really fun to watch him. He literally might overwork sometimes. He's really prepared, does his homework. It's neat to see when a guy gets rewarded that works that hard."

The Red Raiders out-hit the Ragin' Cajuns, 12-11. Tyler Neslony and Michael Davis each collected three hits for Texas Tech, which got a sixth-inning home run from Orlando Garcia for a 2-1 lead. Ryan Shetter (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief to get the win.

"We got some guys that like to play baseball," Tadlock said. "We show up and play."

For Louisiana-Lafayette (3-3), Joe Robbins collected three hits, including a home run in the last of the sixth to make it a 2-2 game. Dylan Moore (1-1) took the loss.

Game 2
Arkansas romps past Houston

Arkansas players consider themselves a collection of scrappy hitters. And when the Razorbacks find their pitch, they take advantage.

On Saturday, the Razorbacks were scrappy and powerful. Fueled by three home runs -- two from Michael Bernal -- Arkansas blasted Houston, 12-3.

"I happened to catch two pitches that were over the plate and put good swings on [them]," said Bernal, who had five RBIs batting eighth in the order. "When we got those pitches, we didn't miss."

After three innings, Arkansas led, 8-1, and had racked up nine hits.

Carson Shaddy and Austin Catron, who delivered a two-run pinch-hit single in Arkansas' five-run third, had three hits each. Shaddy's two-run homer in Arkansas' three-run eighth concluded the scoring.

Video: UH@ARK: Shaddy sends one out to deep left

"We all know this lineup is really strong and we all have a really good attitude," Shaddy said.

Arkansas (7-0), which beat Rice, 5-2, on Friday, accumulated 13 hits.

Last year, Arkansas reached the College World Series. Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said he likes the makeup of this year's squad.

"We have more hitters. There's a lot of competition," Van Horn said. "We can make some moves -- right, left, switch-hitters.

"We've tried to have a deeper lineup. I got some guys that could hit a little higher up in the order, but I like having them down in the order because it gives us a lot more balance in our lineup."

Video: UH@ARK: Bernal lifts homer to left

Arkansas starter Blaine Knight had trouble locating his pitches and left after two innings with a 3-1 lead. James Teague (1-0), the second of seven Arkansas pitchers, earned the win. Houston starter John King (1-1) took the loss, allowing six runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Joe Davis was 4-for-4 and a walk for Houston (4-2), raising his batting average to .692. Justin Montemayor had two doubles for the Cougars, who collected 11 hits and left 11 on base.

Video: UH@ARK: Bernal blasts his second homer of the game

Game 3
TCU routs Rice

It was quite a homecoming Saturday for TCU freshman Luken Baker, who played high school ball at Oak Ridge High School in Conroe, just north of Houston.

With family and a good number of friends in attendance, Baker put on a dazzling show. The 6-4, 265-pound right-hander blasted a towering home run over the railroad track in left field, while throwing six shutout innings in the Horned Frogs' 10-0 blowout win over the Rice Owls.

Video: RU@TCU: Steinhagen puts TCU up early

The game has called after 6 1/2 innings because of the 10-run rule. TCU (5-1) was dominant, leading 8-0 after three innings, and riding the pitching of Baker. In the early stages of his college career, Baker is 2-0 on the mound and has two home runs. But hitting a homer in his hometown has special meaning.

"Minute Maid Park, it's the park I grew up coming to baseball games in," Baker said. "I love every part of it, and being able to come out here and perform like I did, it was pretty awesome. [That ball] is probably the hardest one I've ever hit. ... It looked cool either way. It felt good and I'm glad it happened.

"This is my favorite ballpark, and the fact that it was in a game and it actually meant something, and I was also on the mound. So it helped me out."

Baker, who was hitting cleanup, opened the bottom of the third inning with his homer, putting the Horned Frogs up 6-0.

But Baker wasn't the only Horned Frog hitting. Elliott Barzilli hammered a two-run home run in the third that chased Rice starter Ricardo Salinas (0-1), giving TCU an 8-0 lead. In two-plus innings, Salinas allowed eight runs and six hits. Cam Warner had two of TCU's nine hits.

Video: RU@TCU: Barzilli delivers two-run homer to left field

"I love our lineup," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "There's some depth in there. I feel we can score at any time. There's some power, there's some speed. This is a good offensive club. I like where we are."

Hitting home runs is nothing new for Baker, the 2015 Gatorade National Player of the Year. In a span of 34 days in 2014, Baker won the Under Armour Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field and the MLB Junior Select Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game week at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Baker, who went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs, flied out just in front of the warning track in dead center in the fourth inning. He gave up four hits, struck out seven with no walks and hit one batter.

"He's a good hitter and he's the same kind of hitter that he is a pitcher," Schlossnagle said. "He's not just a power guy, he can hit, he uses the whole field to hit. And I was glad for him, in his hometown on this stage against a great program to play the way he did."

Getting hits for Rice (3-4) were Charlie Warren, Dayne Wunderlich, Ford Proctor, Ryan Chandler and Cody Staab.

Day 1 action

Complete College Classic schedule/results

Friday
Texas Tech 3, Houston 2
TCU 7, Louisiana-Lafayette 1
Arkansas 5, Rice 2

Saturday
Texas Tech 5, Louisiana-Lafayette 3 (10)
Arkansas 12, Houston 3
TCU 10, Rice 0

Sunday
Arkansas at Texas Tech, 11:05 a.m. CT on MLB Network
TCU at Houston, 2:35 p.m. CT on MLB Network
Louisiana-Lafayette at Rice, 6:05 p.m. CT on MLB Network

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com.

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