It was a wild weekend at Lupton, as TCU Baseball continued to mash through May with another series win.
Behind the home run heroics of Conner Shepherd and Alex Isola, the effective starting pitching of Nick Lodolo (making, likely, the final home start of his career), Charles King, and Brandon Williamson, and a dose of Lupton Magic, TCU did what they needed to do to stay in the postseason picture by knocking off the Jayhawks twice and nearly pulling off the sweep in their final home series.
The Frogs took the opener 4-3 Friday night, with Haylen Green getting the win thanks to Conner Shepherd’s ninth inning blast.
Saturday, it was Alex Isola blasting a three run dong to left after Andrew Keefer tied the game at four with a two run double, leading to a 7-4 TCU victory.
Sunday, it was a 1-1 game through eight, with Brandon Williamson doing yeoman’s work into the final frame. But a lead-off walk ended Williamson’s day, and an error allowed a run to score off of Cal Coughlin. Kansas went on to win 3-1, keeping the Frogs from a series sweep.
There is something about the month of May that tends to bring out the best in Jim Schlossnagle’s crew. Just check out the May record of TCU Baseball over the last five years:
I know most people have given up hope on the Frogs making the postseason for a second consecutive year, but it’s not completely out of the picture. TCU has a great opportunity to get some quality wins this weekend in Lubbock - a series win there, this late in the season, would go a long way with the committee. And following that up with a few wins in Big 12 Tournament, where the Frogs should be well positioned as the fifth or sixth seed, could catapult them into the mix for sure.
TCU has not won less than five games in May in the last five years. Can they get to ten in the next few weeks - and will it be enough to allow them to keep playing into June?
Saying goodbye is never easy, and TCU Baseball gave a fond farewell to three seniors and a junior that is likely to leave as well this weekend. It’s a good bad thing to review.
Saturday was senior day, meaning the celebration of three special players in Jared Janczak, Josh Watson, and Johnny Rizer. They spent a combined 11 years as members of the TCU Baseball program, making countless memories for Frog fans. Whether it was clutch performances in postseason play, home runs hit into the streets, or game-saving grabs that made Sportscenter’s Top Ten, each has made their mark on TCU Baseball. And it’s not fun to say goodbye.
We also have to acknowledge what was likely Nick Lodolo’s final start at Lupton; the draft-eligible junior is a potential first round pick having posted a 6-4 record with a 2.39 ERA, with 100 strikeouts and just 19 walks issued. That’s a heck of a line for a pitcher that has gotten inconsistent run support and defense behind him, and it’s put him in position to likely be the first collegiate pitcher off the board.
We can hope that we get more than the final series and Lubbock and a few games in OKC to watch these guys do what they do, but if this is truly goodbye, it’s been a hell of a run.
It turns out, walk-off wins are fun. And the folks that braved the cold and wet weather Friday and early Saturday were treated to a pair of them. It had been nine years since TCU won via a walk-off home run, and they did it TWICE this weekend. That’s just nuts. And while the heroics of Shep and Iso were a ton of fun, it’s the pitching that should have folks extra excited.
Nick Lodolo did Nick Lodolo things Friday night; the lefty went six innings, allowed two runs, and struck out 11 in his likely Lupton finale.
Charles King didn’t throw a complete game for the third time this season, but he did give the Frogs 7.1 frames, scattering seven hits, and allowing four runs - though only two earned.
Brandon Williamson closed the weekend with one of the two best starts of his time in Fort Worth, pitching into the ninth inning, allowing just one run on six hits with 11 strikeouts. Not since he stifled Texas A&M back in March have we seen this kind of stuff from the junior transfer, but he looked like the rising star we all knew he could be Sunday.
Though the bullpen let the Frogs down Sunday, it was generally good overall. And though the bats didn’t light up the scoreboard in the finale, it showed how effective it can be regardless of the situation Friday and Saturday.
This team has the arms.
It has the bats.
Now, if they can get the defense cleaned up...
... they might really have something.