TCU

TCU win sets up showdown of aces in Arkansas

Brandon Williamson and Charles King combined to stifle Cal

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said Brandon Williamson was solid and Charles King helped turn momentum in relief Friday night.
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TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said Brandon Williamson was solid and Charles King helped turn momentum in relief Friday night.

Two of the top-rated pitching prospects in the country will face off in a winner’s bracket game Saturday night at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It will be the Frogs vs. the Hogs.

Third-seeded TCU will start left-hander Nick Lodolo (6-5, 2.48 ERA). The top-seeded Razorbacks counter with right-hander Isaiah Campbell (10-1, 2.38). Lodolo is expected to be selected in the top 10 in Monday’s MLB draft. Campbell is rated the No. 45 prospect, according to MLB.com. The game will stream live online at ESPN.com.

TCU (33-26) beat No. 2 seed Cal 13-2 Friday night in its opening game of the Fayetteville Regional. Arkansas beat Central Connecticut 11-5. Cal and Central Connecticut meet at noon Saturday in an elimination game.

Saturday’s marquee pitching matchup includes a distinct advantage for Campbell, who will be in his home park. It’s one of the largest college baseball stadiums in the country with a capacity of about 13,000. Baum-Walker is known for the home-field advantage it provides the Razorbacks.

“We didn’t come here to win a ball game. We came here to try to win this tournament,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said when asked about holding Lodolo until Saturday. “And we felt like that was our best chance.”

Arkansas is 28-6 at home in 2019. A year ago, when the Razorbacks were the national runner-up, they were 35-4 at home.

Lodolo struck out 12 but allowed five earned runs in his last start May 22 against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament. It’s his first career start in a regional or super regional, although he did make a start in the 2017 College World Series.

Lodolo said he won’t be fazed by the atmosphere at Baum-Walker Stadium. “This will be my 46th start at TCU,” Lodolo said. “I’ve (pitched) everywhere, so … “

The Frogs advanced to the winner’s bracket thanks to starter Brandon Williamson and Charles King. The two combined to hold Cal (32-19) to one run on three hits over seven innings. Williamson held the Bears to one run on three hits and two walks over four innings. He struck out seven and handed the ball over to King, who started the fifth. King allowed a run in four innings of relief.

“I have no issue starting or [working] out of the pen,” said King, who threw 53 pitches. “I’m just trying to keep our club in the game and keep the pace moving quickly. [Williamson] probably had something left in the tank but he was at 91 pitches.”

Williamson was in a jam in the fourth after a lead-off walk and single put runners on the corners with no outs. Andrew Vaughn eventually scored on an infield single to short by Darren Baker.

Meanwhile, the Frogs’ offense tacked together runs in the first, third and fifth innings and led 3-1 before blowing it open with six runs in the sixth.

Hunter Wolfe was 3 for 5 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. Six of the first seven batters in the sixth reached for TCU. The one who didn’t, Jake Guenther, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center. Wolfe’s two-run double down the left-field line started the rally. Johnny Rizer’s two-run homer pushed the lead to eight.

Rizer leads the Frogs with 11 home runs. Rizer was 3 for 6 with 3 RBIs.

“This is why you play,” Schlossnagle said. “This is why you lift [weights] at 6:30 in the morning and put all of the time in. To play in atmospheres like this. It’s going to be rocking here [Saturday].”

TCU left-hander Nick Lodolo, who is expected to be a top 10 pick in the MLB draft on June 3, won't let it be a distraction during the postseason

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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