Are you satisfied with that? Because I feel like I just ate a delicious Snickers bar*.
Both teams showed up and played exciting, error-free baseball, but the difference in the end was an extraordinary start by TCU’s Nick Lodolo. The highly-touted freshman threw 106 pitches in eight full innings of work. He allowed just one run off of four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
But it’s not just that. There may have been some good and bad breaks for both teams, but TCU played the complete game that fans and coaches have been waiting for. They hit, they pitched well, they fielded cleanly. Heck, they even got out to an early lead. They pretty much did everything right when it counted most.
With two outs in the first Skoug was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and was singled home by Baker to give TCU a 1-0 lead. They added one more in the top of the fourth to make it 2-0 as Landestoy doubled with one out, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on an RBI sac fly by Merrill.
Then, the Red Raiders almost took control of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lodolo loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk. Tech cut TCU’s lead in half at 2-1 by scoring on an RBI sac fly to center, and then after a wild pitch and a walk the Raiders had the bases loaded again. Michael Burglund, who was a TCU commit before flipping and going out west, hit one up the middle that looked like it would score a run. Merrill slid in an attempt to get to it, but it bounced off of him only to dribble right to Cam Warner who picked it up, tapped second and threw over to first for an inning-ending double play.
That was the turning point, because TCU immediately chased Tech’s starter, Erikson Lanning, from the game with no outs in the fifth. He gave up two runs on four hits and threw 80 total pitches before giving way to John McMillon, a guy who appeared to be a Bizarro World version of Luken Baker. He is a 6’3”, 250 lbs freshman who hit cleanup and shut TCU down for a couple of innings when he took the mound.
McMillon entered the game with no outs and a runner on base in the fifth, and after issuing a walk to the first batter he faced, he proceeded to strike out Skoug, Baker, and eventually Brown with runners in scoring position. After a couple of innings the Frogs were able to get to him for two runs in the seventh to stretch their lead to 4-1. The Frogs opened up that inning with three straight singles, and ended up scoring on a wild pitch and an RBI sac fly.
When the ninth rolled around you knew that Feltman would be called upon to close things out, and he came alive like Peter Frampton. He struck out the first batter he faced, got a weak grounder to first for out number two, and then struck out Hunter Hargrove swinging to get the save, and give TCU a 1-0 lead in the series.
Feltman’s back, TCU cannot fall behind Tech in the Big 12 standings this weekend after the win, and Lodolo shined like the star we all hoped he would be. Oh, and Skoug and Baker both delivered in the heart of the lineup. Skoug was 3 of 4 and Baker was 2 of 4. I just have one question: Do you feel like we do? Cue the music.
*Frogs O’ War not sponsored by Snickers.