OMAHA--Texas Christian coach Jim Schlossnagle’s message to all his starting pitchers is to do whatever they can to leave the game with a lead. Thursday, in the biggest start of his young career, freshman lefthander Nick Lodolo did just that.
Lodolo threw four innings in an elimination game against Louisville, and TCU won, 4-3, to advance to Friday’s bracket final against Florida.
Lodolo gave up three runs on a walk and five hits--two solo home runs--and struck out a batter. It wasn’t his best performance, but after not starting since May 24 in the Big 12 Conference Tournament opener, it was a serviceable outing.
"He kept us in the ballgame," Schlossnagle said. "Obviously, we like for it to be a little cleaner, but that’s a good experience for Nick."
While Lodolo had an extended break before Thursday’s start, he kept to his routine by facing live hitters in practice. He also was able to get his feet wet in Omaha with a one-inning relief appearance Sunday in TCU’s 3-0 loss to Florida.
Lodolo said he felt good when he took the mound Thursday.
"This year’s been the first inning’s that gotten me so I was going to let that happen tonight," Lodolo said. "I went out there and just attacked as much as I could. I didn’t know how long I was going to go, but I just wanted to go out there and keep the team in the game as long as I could."
Lodolo was drafted 41st overall by the Pirates last June, but chose to continue on to TCU, where he has spent the whole season in the rotation. He is 5-1, 4.35 with 72 strikeouts in 78.2 innings this season.
News and Notes from around the CWS
Louisville: The Cardinals had several close plays on the bases go against them Thursday, including a play at the plate in the second inning that went to an official review and a play at second base in the eighth inning that led to coach Dan McDonnell being ejected. Logan Taylor said, eventually, seeing the calls go against them took a toll on the Cardinals. "There were just a bunch of close plays, and especially because we’re behind, you really want those to help get you some momentum and help you get close," he said. "But, again, they’re all very, very close and if I go back and watch them, he probably got them all right."
TCU: Freshman lefthander Nick Bennett got the start for Louisville on Thursday, but had things worked out slightly differently in recruiting, he could have ended up at TCU. Schlossnagle said he went to see Bennett pitch in the Mickey Mantle World Series in McKinney, Texas, two years ago. Though the Cincinnati native wound up staying closer to home for college, the trip wasn’t wasted for Schlossnagle. Bennett’s opponent that night in Texas was Lodolo. It was the first time any of TCU’s coaches saw the player that would end up being the highest drafted player in the 2016 draft class not to sign. . . . Righthander Mitchell Traver will start Friday against Florida, with righthander Jared Janczak scheduled for Saturday if TCU forces the if-necessary game. Traver (4-1, 3.79) last pitched June 3 against Central Connecticut State in TCU’s opening game of the NCAA Tournament. The redshirt senior struck out nine batters in seven innings and held the Blue Devils to one run on one hit and two walks.
TD Ameritrade Park: Louisville’s Brendan McKay and Taylor hit solo home runs Thursday, bringing this year’s home run tracker to 16, the most hit during a CWS since the event moved to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011. The previous high of 15 home runs was set in 2015. Last year there were 10 home runs hit in 17 games.