The athletic department has been using the #LuptonMagic tagline for the team this season. I personally love the campaign because if you've spent much time at Lupton over the last few seasons then you know that there really is something special about that place. The never-give-up mentality of Schlossnagle's teams coupled with the energy and excitement that the fans bring to the ballpark make for weird happenings inside the gates of Lupton. This season, in a year when it is publicized more than ever though, we really haven't seen much of that Lupton Magic. Not until tonight anyway.
Today's game was as entertaining as any in recent memory, save for a few uber-legendary exceptions. The lead went back and forth all night. The bases were loaded every time I looked up. TCU got down by a few runs early, and then after back-to-back homers they tied it up almost immediately. Then they were up big for a while, but a usually safe five run lead was erased like a simple typo in what seemed like seconds. Finally, in extra innings, the Frogs pulled off the win in an unlikely walk off fashion. Aside from that, I guess I'd sum it up like so:
TCU opened it up in the first when Skoug got a two out double and was singled home by Baker to make it 1-0. Skoug was full on SKOUGBEAST tonight going 4-6 with three RBIs, a home run and three doubles. He's been on a tear all week, and his last 10 hits in a row have gone for extra bases (nine doubles and one HR). USC came back in the second and jumped ahead 2-1. On Friday night they had the leadoff man reach base in six innings and only managed three total runs. They obviously had that in mind as they were aggressive early and often today. Despite some confusingly bad base-running at times, they took advantage of most of their opportunities and refused to let TCU pull away.
In the bottom of the second TCU tied the score up at two all with a single from Landestoy, who has been filling in really nicely for the injured Wanhanen. USC chased Howard from the mound in the third and jumped out ahead 5-2. Howard, who has been the most consistent pitcher for the Frogs so far this year, allowed eight hits, four runs (all earned), and lasted only 3 1/3 while striking out three and walking two. In the bottom of the fourth, Wade got a lead off single and Warner brought him home with a two RBI homer. In the next at bat, Skoug lifted a home run of his own over the left field fence to tie the game at five. It was Skoug's first home run of the year.
In the bottom of the sixth, TCU loaded the bases with no outs and Skoug doubled to drive in two more runs. A single by Barzilli, a bases loaded walk to Landestoy and a wild pitch that allowed Skoug to score from third made it a five-run inning for the Frogs who led 10-5 heading into the seventh. Burnett relieved Howard in the fourth and after allowing an early run he settled into two innings of really good work before he had to leave the mound with an apparent knee injury. Guillory relieved him and looked really sharp over most of an inning and two thirds. It looked like TCU would coast to another blowout win, but things started to fall apart in the eighth.
Guillory got himself into a bases loaded, no out situation to begin the eighth and was pulled to give Treiglaff the chance at a six-out save. The situation that Treiglaff inherited was too much for him to manage though, and USC ended up scoring five runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game up at 10 all. USC's closer kept the Frogs in check for a couple of innings and things were looking dark when the Trojans scored a run in the top of the tenth to take an 11-10 lead. With just one chance to get a couple of runs and claw out a win, the Frogs were praying for a little more of the Lupton magic that they have come to expect.
Skoug led off the frame with his third double of the game and two straight walks to Baker and Watson had TCU in their own bases-loaded-no-outs situation. Barzilli flew out to right field, allowing Skoug to tag up at third and score the tying run. Hess was walked next to load the bases again and another walk to Steinhagen sealed the walk-off victory for the Horned Frogs. Treiglaff didn't get the save, but he did earn the win and he saved further exhaustion of TCU's bullpen by throwing 51 total pitches over three innings. In what was his longest appearance this year, he allowed five hits and two runs (both earned) while striking out three and walking one.
In a season when we're 12-2 with an almost completely new lineup, a completely new weekend rotation, and our best pitcher and best offensive player still injured, not a whole lot has been missing. Even though that last sentence seems pretty magical in itself, the magic of these close, wacky nail-biters that we've come to expect from TCU baseball has been so far. Not anymore though. This may be a new team, with a new mentality and a new offensive strategy, but this is still TCU baseball. Lupton's magic isn't going anywhere. It's here to stay.