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Frogs fall to Vanderbilt 7-4 in Dodger Classic finale

TCU’s comeback bid fell short, as they couldn’t overcome a strong start by the Commodores.

TCU Baseball vs Long Beach State 2.24.18 (G1)
Shepherd’s three run jack was the highlight of a tough day for the Frogs.
Melissa Triebwasser

Things started poorly for the Horned Frogs at Dodger Stadium Sunday afternoon... very poorly. TCU starter Nick Lodolo struggled out of the gate, allowing six hits, hitting three batters, and getting touched up for five runs in just 1.2 innings of work. The sophomore lefty just couldn’t find the zone, and exited in short order trailing 5-0, the start of a game that ended with TCU on the wrong side of a 7-4 score.

But, since Saturday’s game had been cancelled due to weather, both Lodolo and usual Sunday starter Sean Wymer were available, and Wymer got the call early in the second. Entering the game with two on and two out, Wymer got a fly out to get TCU out of trouble.

The Frogs got on the board an inning later in the most unlikely of ways, as third baseman Conner Shepherd - who had been hitting .059 with just two hits in 34 at bats - launched a three run blast to right center to get TCU back in the ballgame. For Shepherd, it was a huge moment - not only did he get his first home run of the season at a big league ballpark, but he became the first Frog not named Luken Baker of Josh Watson to touch ‘em all in 2018.

Wymer followed the offensive explosion with an impressive third inning, striking out the side and looking like the bullpen beast we became so accustomed to seeing a season ago. In fact, the junior righty would go on to pitch 3.2 innings, allowing two hits, striking out four, and allow just one free pass - on a hit by pitch in the sixth. It was that HBP that ended his afternoon, as he was pulled in favor of Cal Coughlin after allowing a one out single and hitting the batter.

Prior to Wymer’s exit, TCU cut the lead to just one, thanks to a Luken Baker single and a little help from the Commodores. Zach Humphreys led off the inning with a walk, followed by Baker’s single to left. After Josh Watson struck out, the runners advanced on a passed ball during Michael Landestoy’s at bat, allowing Humphreys to score on an RBI groundout to second base.

Vanderbilt would answer in the top of the sixth, picking up a run when Cal Coughlin was called for a balk. That seemed to unravel him a bit, as he allowed a single a batter later, and allowed another run to cross on a wild pitch. Both runs were charged to Wymer, though Coughlin’s errors were equally as responsible.

TCU squandered a couple of solid scoring chances in the sixth and seven, part of a day that saw the Frogs strand 10 runners, going just 1-10 with runners in scoring position, and strike out 11 times. Josh Watson, Connor Wanhanen, and Michael Landestoy all had multiple Ks on the day, as the offense struggled to move runners around.

The Frogs get back to Texas for a Tuesday tilt in Houston against Rice, before returning home for a weekend series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.