No. 20 baseball open Big 12 play with a walk-off win over Texas

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The team entered the ninth inning down by 2 and finished it with a 3-2 victory. Photo by Jack Wallace

A night characterized by strong pitching finished with the Horned Frogs’ offense rallying to a comeback victory over Texas.

A bloop single to left field by Adam Oviedo in the bottom of the ninth finished off the team’s final-inning comeback and gave them the 3-2 victory in the series opener against the No. 9 Longhorns.
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“In the game of baseball if you just put the ball into play, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Oviedo said of his winning run. “I think tonight was a great example of that.”

Heading into the ninth, the Horned Frogs were down 2-0 and had proved unable to get anything past Longhorns starting pitcher Bryce Elder. The sophomore went eight innings and only gave up five hits while striking out seven.

“We just couldn’t put enough good at-bats together against Elder,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said.

Elder came out in the ninth and hit TCU catcher Alex Isola, starting the Horned Frogs rally that would end in a win.

He was pulled after the at-bat for reliever Kamron Fields, who walked Jake Guenther and gave TCU runners on first and second with no outs. Fields had two wild pitches in the next at-bat, allowing Isola to score on the second one and cut the Texas lead to one point.

Two more balls followed the wild pitches, resulting in an Austin Henry walk that put the game-winning run on first.

“Henry’s at-bat was the at-bat,” Schlossnagle said. “To look horrible on the first breaking ball and then to get back into the at-bat, that was the at-bat of the game in my mind.”

Down one with runners on first and third, Johnny Rizer followed Henry with a single that scored pinch runner Brad Czerniejewski to tie the game.

“I just got in the box and I was telling myself ‘Put a barrel on the ball, you’re not going to strike out here your going to get a base hit’ and that’s what I did, just put a barrel on the ball,” Rizer said.

Still with no outs, Oviedo came to the plate and dropped in a bloop single to complete the comeback.

“That’s the stuff you dream for,” he said of the walkoff. “That’s why you come to TCU.”

The Horned Frogs were able to keep the game close enough to come back in the ninth thanks to the pitching of ace Nick Lodolo and the defense behind him.

Lodolo went eight innings and struck out nine batters. This season, he’s struck out at least eight in five of his six starts.

“Nick’s going to give us 7 strong every time he comes up,” Isola said. “He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve caught.”

While Lodolo limited the Longhorns to just two runs over eight innings, it almost doubled in the fourth inning. Zach Zubia turned on a Lodolo pitch and hit a shot to center that looked like a surefire two-run home run, until Rizer stepped in.

The centerfielder leaped and grabbed the ball after it was already over the fence, robbing Zubia of a home run and sending the Lupton crowd into a frenzy.

“If that’s not No. 1 on SportsCenter I’ll be disappointed,” Isola said. “That’s the best catch I’ve ever seen.”

Propelled by Rizer’s catch and Lodolo’s pitching, the team was able to steal away a win from the Longhorns.

“We were just trying to fight, put together good at-bats and hope for the best,” Isola said.

The team hopes to continue its victory when it takes on the Longhorns again tomorrow. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. with Jake Eissler the likely starter for TCU.