Brian Howard pitched a stellar 8 innings in just 94 pitches and Regional MVP Cam Warner hit his second home run of the weekend in a game that was controlled by the Frogs from the first pitch.
Now, with TCU winning and the way the bracket is set up, the Frogs will most likely face Texas A&M this weekend for the right to advance to the College World Series in Omaha.
Not, of course, that any of the Frogs would admit that they’re thinking about a potential rematch from last year’s Super Regional with Texas A&M.
“I don’t know who we’re playing yet,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said with a grin postgame, before saying that his team was just focused on what gives them “the best chance to win.”
“We know we’re gonna face a great club, probably in a great environment, and that’s an awesome life experience, man,” Schlossnagle said.
Brian Howard and Cam Warner, flanking their coach in the postgame press conference, echoed his thoughts. All three Frogs managed to avoid calling their potential opponents by name.
For now, they can revel in the sixth regional championship for TCU in the last eight years.
While the offense carried the Frogs through the season, Schlossnagle was quick to point out that pitching, like it has been for the majority of the last decade of TCU baseball, was the key factor this weekend.
“I think one thing that needs to be mentioned is how well we pitched,” Schlossnagle said. “Whether it be Traver and the guys out of the bullpen on Friday, or [Jared] Janczak and Brian [Trieglaff] yesterday, I’m really excited about that.”
Howard was ruthlessly efficient on the mound Sunday. Arizona State swung early and often at his pitches, and he was able to get ahead in the count on several batters.
Still, when he gave up the lone run in the third inning, it took what Howard described as a “heated” conversation with pitching coach Kirk Saarloos to settle him down.
“He had an opinion about how I was pitching that inning, and he was right in hindsight,” Howard said. “But in the heat of the moment, I did not agree with him, so we had a discussion.”
Saarloos, Howard said, wanted his right-hander to pitch with more conviction. Whether it was conviction driving him or a breaking ball that the Sun Devils couldn’t seem to get a bat on, Howard proceeded to produce 17 straight outs before being relieved for Brien Trieglaff in the 9th.
Howard’s counterpart on the mound, Eder Erives, threw 108 pitches in 7 innings. He gave up 3 runs in the 2nd to the Frogs, but found a groove until being pulled in the 8th inning, giving up just one more run.
The Sun Devils brought out their ace, Seth Martinez, to pitch the 8th. That just so happened to be the inning that Cam Warner drove another ball over the left field fence of Lupton Stadium. Martinez was pulled after giving up 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning.
TCU fans await the results of the College Station Super Regional. At press time, the Aggies lead 4-1 over Minnesota in the bottom of the sixth.
Though, as Schlossnagle insists, that’s the farthest thing from the Frogs’ mind.