Back home after a forgettable week in California, No. 3-ranked TCU pulled out a 3-1 victory against Kansas to open the Big 12 schedule Friday night.
Spring break was never more relaxing.
“We walked out, and it was like, ‘Thank God we’re back in Texas,’ ” said shortstop Ryan Merrill, who hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning and drove in an insurance run in the eighth inning. “We feel like we’re TCU baseball again. We don’t really know what we were doing out in California. Now we just feel good. We got a win in Lupton Stadium. We feel good.”
Sean Wymer (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief, and Durbin Feltman picked up his fourth save thanks to a double play with Merrill as the relay man in the ninth inning. Merrill started a double play in the eighth inning to wipe out a leadoff single with TCU leading 2-1.
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We feel good. We’ve just got to put everything together.
TCU shortstop Ryan Merrill
The Horned Frogs (13-4, 1-0) came in having lost three of four games on a West Coast trip to UC Irvine and Long Beach State. Until scoring in the sixth inning on Josh Watson’s sacrifice fly to tie the game, they had been scoreless for 15 consecutive innings.
“We feel good. We’ve just got to put everything together,” Merrill said. “The pitchers, they came to play. The hitters, we’re right there. We’re working on things, so we’ll be back.”
TCU starter Nick Lodolo struck out five of the last eight batters he faced, giving up a run on four hits and a walk. He exited with two outs in the sixth inning, marking his longest appearance of his five starts.
He began the game with two perfect innings, giving him a stretch where he retired 20 of 21 batters, including a start last weekend at UC Irvine. A leadoff single in the third led to a 1-0 Kansas lead on Mat McLaughlin’s single to left in the third inning.
TCU is 5-0 in Big 12 openers.
TCU tied the game on Watson’s sacrifice fly to shallow left, which required a diving play by left fielder Peyton Grassanovits. That gave Cam Warner an opening to break for the plate, and he scored standing up.
Merrill’s home run, his second of the year, led off the seventh inning against Zack Leban, the third KU reliever. Jayhawks starter Sean Rackoski gave up a run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“The way we played last week, I’m not going to feel anything but elation about winning a game,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Usually, when you come off the week we’ve had, sometimes you’ve got to grind through that first one to get it, and then maybe you can start feeling better about yourself and get on a roll.”
Rackoski, Weiman (6), Leban (6), Davis (8), Kaplan (8) and Gragg. Lodolo, Wymer (6), Feltman (9) and Skoug. W—Wymer (1-0). L—Leban (0-1). 2B—KU: Karre (2). HR—TCU: Merrill (2). HBP—KU: Karre, Foyle; TCU: Baker. SH—KU: Sems (1). SF—TCU: Watson (3). SB—KU: Karre (5); TCU: Brown (2 (10). LOB—KU 6; TCU: 9. E—KU: Sems 2 (4). T—3:09. A—4,521. RECORDS—Kansas 8-0, 0-1 Big 12; TCU 13-4, 1-0 Big 12.
No. 3 TCU vs. Kansas
5 Saturday (FSSW), 1 Sunday (FSSW-Plus)