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With newcomers leading the way, Texas lands the first punch in its key series against TCU

Texas baseball players Trey Faltine (0) and Mike Antico (5) celebrate a run scored against Texas Tech on April 30, 2021 in Austin.

With Texas visiting TCU on Friday night, a graduate transfer and two freshmen made their first impressions count.

Graduate transfer Mike Antico starred on offense and defense and freshmen relievers Tanner Witt and Aaron Nixon shut the door on a TCU comeback in a 5-4 win for Texas at Lupton Stadium. With the victory, Texas pulled within a game of first-place TCU in the Big 12 standings.

No. 3 TCU (33-11, 15-4 Big 12) and No. 6 Texas (37-11, 14-5) will resume their three-game series at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Texas and TCU had not played since 2019. So when UT coach David Pierce turned in his lineup card on Friday night, seven of his starters were meeting the Horned Frogs for the first time.

One of the newcomers to this rivalry was Antico, who spent the past four years at St. John's. On Friday, Antico went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. He hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning. With Texas nursing a 4-3 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Antico also made a diving catch in center field that likely prevented TCU from scoring.

On Friday in Fort Worth, Texas received a quality start from ace pitcher Ty Madden. When Madden was pulled after the sixth inning, Texas turned the game over to a trio of freshmen relievers.

Freshman Lucas Gordon was tagged with the tying run and failed to record an out in the seventh inning. Witt, though, stranded runners in scoring position in both the seventh and eighth frames. 

Texas stuck with Witt in the ninth inning, but TCU got its first two runners aboard and forced a pitching change. Nixon, a freshman from McAllen, struck out the first two batters he faced. Gray Rodgers, the sixth batter in the TCU lineup, then flew out to left field with runners on second and third base.

Friday's save was the seventh of Nixon's season. Witt improved his record to 3-0.