There were questions about who should get the ball going into this game, but the freshman lefty Lodolo ended up getting the call over the veteran senior Mitchell Traver. Lodolo got some early run support from his teammates as the Frogs put up a four spot in the second inning, but Lodolo gave up a couple of home runs that allowed Louisville to fight their way back to a one-run game.
With two outs in the second, Barzilli singled through the right side. Then he stole second base on a very close call where the shortstop caught the ball in time but had to spin around to his back side to attempt to apply the tag. He wasn’t nervous though. He stole third shortly afterwards and Wanhanen knocked him in with a double to left field. Watson was hit by a pitch and then he and Wanhanen executed a double steal to put both in scoring position.
Four stolen bases in one inning made another Omaha record for the Frogs, to go along with Howard’s 12 strikeouts on Tuesday. If Brian Howard is “Big Game Howie”, Ryan Merrill might as well be “The Omaha Kid”, and the kid came through with a single to plate both Wanhanen and Watson to make it 3-0 before advancing to second on the throw. There was a veeerrrry close play at the plate for Watson, and it looked like the catcher might have gotten him on the replay, but it wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call. Wade singled to score Merrill from second for a 4-0 lead, but then got caught in a rundown to end the inning.
Louisville scored in the third off two hits and a walk in the third to get one back and make it 4-1. In the fourth, Brendan McKay, the college baseball two-way and overall player of the year, homered off Lodolo to lead off and make it 4-2. In the fifth, Lodolo gave up another lead-off homer to Logan Taylor, who hadn’t hit one out of the park all year before today. Once it was back to a one run game, Lodolo was done. He threw just 58 pitches over four innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Cal Coughlin came in for 2⁄3 of an inning in relief of Lodolo, but when a double and a walk put the tying run on first the Frogs went to their rock, Sean Wymer, who struck out Brendan McKay to end the top of the fifth. The next few innings were a bullpen battle between Wymer, and Louisville’s relievers Wolf and Bordner. Wolf came in with one out left in the second and the two went 5 1⁄2 innings and gave up a combined two hits, one walk and struck out five.
In the eighth inning, Louisville had a chance to get a runner in scoring position with one out, but the pinch runner was caught stealing at second. Skoug had to corral a ball in the dirt and threw an absolute missile to get the runner in a very close, very clutch play. Louisville’s coach Dan O'Connell did not like the call, so he let the second base umpire know and was promptly thrown out. Then all Wymer needed to do was strike out Brendan McKay again, which he did.
TCU had the bases loaded in the eighth with one out and had a huge chance to add to their lead, but instead they decided to give Nolan Brown the green light on a 3-0 count (the pitch was a ball, also) and he dribbled one back to the pitcher who easily got the force out at home. Barzilli grounded in to an inning-ending fielder’s choice in the next at bat.
Against the wishes of probably every TCU fan, Schlossnagle decided to leave Wymer in to pitch the ninth instead of making the call to the bullpen for Feltman. That made me nervous, and confused, but even after giving up a single Wymer battled through, raising his pitch count up to 57 as he retired the side to win the game. It was an incredibly gutsy performance by Wymer, and he gave the Frogs everything they needed with 4 1⁄3 innings pitched, five strikeouts and zero walks giving up only two hits in the outing.
The Frogs have Traver ready to go tomorrow, and I would bet that if they can force the Saturday game we’ll see Janczak again. All of a sudden, the possibility of coming out of the loser’s bracket looks possible, and they’ll take all the baseball they can get. The next game will be against Florida tomorrow night (Friday) at 7:00pm CT on ESPN. They’ll have to beat the Gators twice to advance to the finals.