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Grand Canyon 4, TCU 1: TCU wastes brilliant start from Lodolo

TCU falls despite 10K outing from Nick Lodolo.

Jamie Plunkett

FORT WORTH, TX - TCU couldn’t manage any run support for their ace, as once again Nick Lodolo pitched brilliantly in a losing effort. The Frogs went 0-7 with runners in scoring position, and just 1-10 with a runner on base as they fell 4-1 to Grand Canyon University.

In his two starts this season, Lodolo has pitched 12 innings with a 3.00 ERA, and 12 strikeouts to just one walk. He’s got an 0-2 record to show for it, because TCU has scored just one run in his two starts this season.

Of course, this is partially due to going up against the opponent’s ace in both starts. Grand Canyon’s starter, Kade Mechals, held his own against a TCU lineup that had scored 31 runs in the previous three games. He finished with 6.1 innings of 3-hit baseball, allowing just one run.

TCU got on the board first in the bottom of the second, thanks to an absolute moon shot from Jake Guenther. The big first baseman took the first pitch he saw and deposited it neatly in the bushes past the general admission seating in right field. It was Guenther’s first home run of his TCU career.

The lead didn’t last long though. After striking out the first two batters in the third inning, Lodolo gave up a home run to Grand Canyon’s right fielder, Quin Cotton. The righty hit a soft line drive to right field that carried until it snuck over the fence at the foul pole. You could tell the fact that it went out came as a bit of a surprise to TCU players by the way they reacted.

TCU threatened in the fourth, couldn’t take advantage of two runners on base with no outs. Josh Watson was hit by a pitch, and Austin Henry worked a 4-pitch walk, giving Guenther a chance for another big hit.

Guenther crushed a ball but just got under it, and it was caught on the warning track in right field. Zach Humphreys then grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The deadlock broke in the fifth inning, when Grand Canyon third basman Tyler Wyatt hit an opposite-field home run to right, pushing the Lopes ahead 2-1. It was another ball that probably wouldn’t go out on most nights, but the ball was undoubtedly carrying to right on Friday night.

After missing an opportunity in the fourth, it appeared as if TCU would get the run right back in the bottom of the fifth. After Johnny Rizer struck out to start the inning, Austin Keefer reached first on a booted ball by the second baseman. Bobby Goodloe stepped up to the plate and executed the hit-and-run to perfection, dropping a single into left field. Keefer reached third base, and Goodloe advanced to second on the throw.

With Hunter Wolfe and Porter Brown due up next, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that TCU would score. But Wolfe struck out, and Brown grounded out to first to end the threat.

Meanwhile, Nick Lodolo continued to cruise for the Frogs. Outside of the two soft home runs, Lodolo had been nearly unhittable for the GCU bats. He recorded two more strikeouts in the top of the sixth to give him nine on the night.

TCU threatened to score again in the bottom of the seventh. Johnny Rizer led off the inning with a single to left field. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved to third when Andrew Keefer’s swinging third strike was at a ball in the dirt. Keefer’s attempt to reach first drew a throw, affording Rizer the chance to move to third.

GCU’s starter, Kade Mechals, was done for the night at that point. He gave way to Cole Hoskins, who got Bobby Goodloe to hit a grounder to second base. Rizer was caught in a rundown between third and home, and was eventually tagged out. Goodloe advanced to second while the rundown was taking place.

So, with a runner still in scoring position Hunter Wolfe stepped up to the plate. He grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Grand Canyon added two more runs in the top of the eight, as Charles King came in for Lodolo. King gave up a lead off triple, followed by a strikeout, a single to score a run, and then another hit to push the second run across.

The eighth inning was another verse of the same song. With two on and two out, Alex Isola came in to pinch hit for Zach Humphreys. A pitch in the dirt got away from Grand Canyon’s catcher and Josh Watson advanced to third, while Guenther tried to advance to second. GCU’s catcher got to the ball and threw Guenther out to end the inning.

Cal Coughlin came on to pitch the ninth for TCU, working a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Frogs one final shot to come back. Alex Isola struck out and Johnny Rizer flew out to center field, before Andrew Keefer legged out an infield single.

Bobby Goodloe battled at the plate, fouling off several tough pitches, before ground out to second to end the game.

TCU falls to 3-2 on the season, with a chance to redeem this loss on Saturday at 3pm. No loss to Grand Canyon is a good one, so this is a disappointment, but we’ll see what kind of pitching depth GCU has in the next two days.