Apparently, the move isn’t permanent. But for a night at least, Sean Wymer’s return to the bullpen for TCU Baseball was just what the doctor ordered for a team that has been scuffling all season, and lost their two most important players over the last two weeks.
Wymer delivered in a big way Friday night against one of the best offenses in the Big 12, allowing just one hit in 3.2 innings and looking like the dominant dream-crusher of old in striking out five of the ten batters he faced on just 53 pitches. Relieving Nick Lodolo, who didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning but walked five batters in a wild 4.1 frames, Wymer stabilized TCU defensively and kept things close to give Lupton Magic a chance late, and it delivered in the Frogs 6-4 victory over #4 Texas Tech.
Things started well for the Frogs, who struck for three runs in the bottom of the first inning off of Davis Martin, who struggled for a second consecutive start. Martin, who allowed five runs on five hits with six walks in just 4.0 innings of work, was not sharp from the get go, loading the bases with two outs on a single by AJ Balta and back to back walks to Michael Landestoy and Johnny Rizer. That brought freshman Adam Oviedo up in a big bases loaded, two out spot, and he delivered by smacking the first pitch he saw down the left side for a bases clearing double. He would have the exact same opportunity two innings later, as TCU looked to respond to the Red Raiders getting on the board for the first time in the top of the third. That inning was when the wheels begun to come off for Nick Lodolo, who alternated between dominating (five strikeouts) and wild (five walks). The first run of the game for Tech came without the benefit of a hit, as a leadoff walk, a stolen base, and an error on a pickoff attempt put a runner on third with just one out. The pickoff play had Tech’s Michael Davis dead to rights, who was caught leaning hard and would have been in quite a jam. But, Lodolo’s throw sailed into center field, putting Davis 90’ away and allowing him to score easily on a groundout to first base.
Tech got within one an inning later, as Lodolo went strikeout, walk, strikeout, walk to put two on with two out. That set the table for Cameron Warren, who delivered with an RBI double to make it a 3-2 ballgame. Lodolo really got in trouble in the top of the fifth, though, loading the bases after an opening strikeout by allowing three straight hits, including an RBI double by Josh Jung. That forced Jim Schlossnagle’s hand, who lifted the young lefty for Wymer’s return out of the bullpen. With two on and one out, Wymer allowed a sac fly that gave Tech a 4-3 lead and then a walk, but got a huge strikeout to limit the damage and give the Frogs an opportunity to retake the lead in the bottom of the frame.
AJ Balta had a busy night for TCU, as it seems every ball early went to right field and found his glove. He ended the night with six putouts and an assist to go with his two hits, two runs, and two RBI. But the big moment for the big hitting grad transfer out of Oregon came in the bottom of the fifth, when he launched a massive home run over the right field fence, a no-doubter that put the Frogs back on top, a lead they would not relinquish. Rizer added a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to add some insurance, but Wymer and closer Durbin Feltman slammed the door on Texas Tech’s offense from the sixth on, and they never threatened from there. Feltman was dominant in his one inning of work, tying the all-time TCU career saves mark at 32 with his two strikeout performance in the ninth.
The victory was significant for the Frogs, who face a must-win series if they have any hope - outside of winning the Big 12 Tournament - of making the postseason. Tech also needs a series victory to keep their Big 12 Championship hopes alive. Saturday night’s game will have massive proportions, as both teams look to keep their dreams alive. First pitch is set for 7:00pm.