Nick Lodolo’s debut in a TCU uniform started off a little shaky, but ended up a resounding success. After getting two quick ground outs to start the game he allowed a double and a home run, but finished the inning with a strikeout. With two outs in the second inning he gave Lupton a scare when he went down attempting to pick off a runner at second base. The coaches and trainers met him at the mound as lifted his knee in an attempt to work out some apparent discomfort. Frog fans breathed a sigh of relief shortly after though as they made the decision to keep Lodolo on the mound and he struck out the next batter he faced to end the inning.
The freshman settled into a grove after that, facing only seven batters combined and not allowing a hit in the third and fourth innings. He collected three strikeouts in the fifth inning around a double and a walk to finish up his day. In his five innings of work he gave up two earned runs on three hits while walking two and striking out seven. He had his fastball up in the low 90s with his slider dropping down as low as 76 at times. On a weekend where the Frogs as a whole more than lived up to the hype of their No. 1 ranking, Lodolo too did not disappoint.
The offense didn't take long to dig out of the 0-2 hole. With two outs in the second Nolan Brown worked a walk before back-to-back singles by Cam Warner and Ryan Merrill scored Brown and left runners on the corners. Merrill got caught in a rundown attempting to steal second, but Warner left third heading for home and got in behind a bad throw to the plate as Merrill coasted into second to complete the successful double steal and even up the score at 2-2.
In the third inning, a single by Austen Wade and walks by Evan Skoug and Luken Baker loaded the bases for Josh Watson, who scored Wade with an RBI sac fly to make it 3-2 TCU. Nolan Brown followed that up with a line drive to center field that looked like it would be caught, but an error by the Penn State center fielder allowed Baker and Skoug to score for a 5-2 Frog lead. It never got closer than that.
A solo home run by Baker and a two-run homer by Warner in the fifth put the Frogs up 8-2 and one fan proudly held up a banner reading “Micah” to signify the scholarship funds being raised under the #MashForMicah campaign. With three home runs total over the weekend, fundraising for the Micah Ahern Scholarship is off to a great start. Baker scored the ninth run for the Frogs in the seventh inning after he singled up the middle, advanced on a walk from Watson and was driven in by a single up the middle from Brown.
Jake Eissler, another highly touted freshman pitcher took over for Lodolo in the 6th and allowed just one hit in two innings of work. Eissler combined with fellow freshmen Cal Coughlin and Haylen Green, who got an inning a piece, to allow just two hits over the final four innings. The one hit allowed by Coughlin was a home run, but was his only mistake and Green worked a three-up-three-down ninth to secure the victory and the opening series sweep.
Next up for TCU is a Tuesday night game at UT Arlington, where the Frogs will send Mitchell Traver to the mound for the first time this season. First pitch is at 6:30pm at Clay Gould Field in Arlington.