Just like we drew it up, right?
TCU brought a little #LuptonMagic on the road to start their 2018 campaign, pulling off a stunning comeback in the top of the ninth to knock off the host Antelopes in the opening game of the season.
The Antelopes struck first, pushing a run across in the bottom of the first off of TCU starter Jared Janczak. JJ started the game off by walking Lopes leadoff hitter Preston Pavlica, and allowed a single to Pikai Winchester a batter later, sending Pavlica first to third. A fielder’s choice brought Pavlica home, and GCU was on the board.
Janczak settled down from there, though, keeping GCU off the board for the next five frames. Meanwhile, his teammates struggled to find a groove at the plate, as the Frogs didn’t get a runner on until freshman short stop Adam Oviedo singled - his first career hit - with one out in the third.
There were no further fireworks until the seventh inning, with neither team launching much of a threat in between. The Lopes finally touched Janczak up in the bottom of that seventh inning, who allowed a single and a walk after starting the frame with a pair of Ks. In between was a more pressing problem though, as Luken Baker was forced out of the game after a mis-fielded ball led to an error and a nasty cut above his eye. Janczak exited with quite the stat line though: 6.2 innings, 11 strikeouts, two walks, four hits, and one earned run allowed. Twice, he struck out three consecutive batters, and looked like the ace TCU expects him to be.
Cal Coughlin was the first name called out of the bullpen in 2018, and he inherited quite a mess. After a wild pitch pushed a second run across for GCU, he settled in nicely, retiring four straight to keep the Frogs in the game.
After not making much hay through the first eight innings, TCU made some serious noise in the top of the ninth. Freshman Coby Boulware collected his first career hit to lead off the ninth, and the Frogs got a second man on with a Connor Wanhanen walk. After Michael Landestoy, in for the injured Luken Baker, popped up a bunt, Josh Watson squeaked one just inside the first base bag for a two run triple to tie things up. Zach Humphreys followed him with a sacrifice fly to give TCU a 3-2 lead, and that would be plenty for closer Durbin Feltman, who collected his first save of the season with three quick outs - including his first K of the year.
While it was an excellent way to start the season for the Frogs, we would be remiss in not mentioning the incredible performance of Grand Canyon pitcher Jake Wong, who threw 6.0 innings of two hit ball, striking out nine and walking two. While his night would end in a no-decision, it’s easy to see why he is the best player in the WAC.
TCU finished with just three runs on four hits and struck out 10 times in their first game of the year while walking just three times. Two of those hits were collected by two true freshmen, which is a great sign, but there is still plenty of work to do in the box for a host of new players playing in purple for the first time. That being said, against one of the best pitchers you will see all year, getting a win is all you can ask. TCU is 1-0 and has a chance to win their opening series tomorrow behind Nick Lodolo, but according to Kendall Rogers, they will do so without Luken Baker, who is doubtful for the rest of the series after the hit to the eye.