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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Baseball

‘Mr. Friday Night’ finds his place as ace


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With a record of 6-2 and an ERA of 2.53, sophomore pitcher Andrew Lantrip heads the Cougar pitching staff with 54 strikeouts through 67 innings. | Sarah Hoffman/The Cougar

The world of college baseball can have the habit of playing out like an overly violent western film. Through the season, it can seem like the violence and drama has no end. The long season of baseball, like a gun fight with six shooters, can leave injured bodies strewn about.

In the middle of it all, the idea of Andrew Lantrip as an overwhelmed deputy sheriff in a lawless frontier town isn’t a hard image to put together. The one good man trope — in this case, one who has to step up and ward off the never-ending gangs of bandits that threaten his peaceful town of Friday Night — is an easy fit.

So far in the season, he’s 6-2 in his role as the ersatz ace of the staff, assuming the role after injuries and inconsistencies left the pitching at rough ends. The lanky right-handed sophomore stepped into the role of law and order.

“It feels all right,” Lantrip said. “It’s fine. Same stuff, different day. I just go out there and compete on a Friday night now.”

His leadership, which his teammate’s credit to his skill as well as his maturity, has not gone unnoticed in the dugout.

“I think it shows a big sense of maturity,” said junior second baseman Josh Vidales. “Last year, he started on Tuesdays and really didn’t get that many innings. His mentality has really been ‘I’m the next man up.’ You have to be ready for anything, and I think he showed that he was prepared. He’s gone from Tuesdays to Mr. Friday Night.”

As a 6-0 freshman last year who had a shifting schedule of spot starts, he’s now at the front end of the rotation, with 54 strikeouts in 67 innings. The structure of his new duties seem to be pay off.

“You have more of a routine. Everything is set in stone. Your weekly routine is all about Friday,” said Lantrip. “(The routines) work together because you know you’re gonna start on Friday.”

Head coach Todd Whitting expressed no surprise at the sophomore’s progression.

“We signed him with the intention of him being a weekend guy at some point,” Whitting said. “He hasn’t really surprised me by what he’s done; that’s what we expected him to do, and I expect him to hold that role down as long as long as he’s here.”

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