Without its No. 1 starter, TCU turned to freshman left-hander Nick Lodolo to kick off a series on the mound against Baylor.
He knew what that meant.
“I knew I had to set the tone tonight for the weekend,” he said. “I hadn’t been pitching my best. So tonight, I just came out attacking.”
Lodolo gave up only a run in six innings, striking out five to lead the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs to a 9-4 victory Friday night at Lupton Stadium that kept them in first place in the Big 12.
Evan Skoug and Nolan Brown each drove in two runs, and leadoff hitter Austen Wade was 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
The first inning this year has been like my enemy. That double play was huge. I knew the guy after that, I was coming right after.
TCU pitcher Nick Lodolo, on the first inning against Baylor
Taking the turn of Jared Janczak, sidelined by shoulder soreness, Lodolo opened with five scoreless innings and left the game with an 8-1 lead.
A double play started by shortstop Ryan Merrill in the first inning after the first two batters reached seemed to spark Lodolo after he lasted only one inning and three batters last week at West Virginia.
“The first inning this year has been like my enemy,” Lodolo said. “That double play was huge. I knew the guy after that, I was coming right after.”
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said the double play might have been the biggest play of the game.
“Nick has had his share of not getting through the first or second inning,” Schlossnagle said. “I thought once he got that ground ball, he really caught a rhythm, he started to make pitches, he used the ballpark. He had a chance to pitch with a lead. That’s always good. It allowed him to be more aggressive.”
With a shuffled lineup, the Horned Frogs started the game 8-for-16 with a double, triple and five walks.
The Frogs put the game to bed early with a five-run fourth for an 8-0 lead. Elliott Barzilli’s bloop single to right and Evan Skoug’s single to right sandwiched a two-run hit with the bases loaded by Luken Baker. A third run scored on the Baker at-bat when the ball got away in left field.
Nolan Brown and Austen Wade had sacrifice flies, and Josh Watson had a bases-loaded walk to help TCU build a 3-0 lead after two innings.
TCU’s shuffled lineup started 8-for-16 with five walks, a double, a triple, three strikeouts and seven runs batted in.
9 Consecutive victories at Lupton Stadium for TCU, part of an 18-2 home record.
Connor Wanhanen, who went 6-for-10 in the West Virginia series, hit second instead of ninth. Luken Baker and Evan Skoug swapped the No. 3 and cleanup spots. Cam Warner, the team leader in RBIs, moved down in the order from second to seventh. Elliott Barzilli slid from seventh to ninth.
“I really like that lineup,” Schlossnagle said. “Obviously, the key to it is Wanhanen getting back to who he was as a freshman, getting on base, getting deep in counts. If you look at on-base percentage, Wade, Wanhanen and Baker, those guys usually have at-bats that go deep in counts. They’re not afraid to take a walk. Two of the three can run OK. I really like that. And it puts Cam at the bottom, who leads our team in RBIs. It’s a good guy to have driving in runs down there.”
Lewis, Kettler (5), Leckich (6), Robertson (8), Heimeman (8) and Langeliers. Lodolo, Eissler (7), Coghlin (8) and Skoug. W—Lodolo (4-1). L—Lewis (4-4). 2B—BU: Wendzel (3); TCU: Wade (10). 3B—TCU: Merrill (1). HBP—BU: McLean. SF—TCU: Wade (1), Brown (3). SB—TCU: Landestoy (2), Brown (21). LOB—BU 12, TCU 7. E—BU: Raguse (3). DP—BU 2; TCU 1. T—3:13. A—4,885. RECORDS—Baylor 22-15, 5-8 Big 12; TCU 29-7, 10-3.