Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Howard's 12 K's pushes TCU past Texas A&M to advance in the CWS

                                                            Photo Credit: Nati Harnik

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

OMAHA, NE— TCU Horned Frogs starting pitcher Brian Howard looked incredibly dominant as he matched his career-high of 12 strikeouts in a 4-1 win over in-state rivals the Texas A&M Aggies to advance in the College World Series on Tuesday afternoon.

Throughout the game, there were rumors that Howard was developing a blister on the thumb of his throwing hand, but did not seem to be phased at all.  

“It was accurate and it affected me on every hit I gave up. Other than that, it was fine," Howard said.

More impressive would be Howard's first six outs all coming by way of strikeouts and the 12 total punchouts matched the TD Ameritrade Park record. 

Howard also received high praise from TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle after the game as well. 

“Just amazing through especially the great pitching history of our program in the last 14 years," Schlossnagle said. "Had a lot of really good pitchers, big leaguers, that kind of thing, and for Brian to be the only back-to-back 10-game-or-more winner in our program is an awesome statement for him and pitching coach (Kirk) Saarloos and the program in general.” 

Texas A&M coach Rob Childress compared Brian Howard to Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals.  

“He’s incredibly competitive," Childress said. "I’m not going to apologize for losing to him.  That guy is a really good pitcher.”

Texas A&M starting pitcher Stephen Kolek only lasted 2.2 innings before exiting the game.  TCU managed to get a run in the second to take an early lead, and then extended their lead with a 3-run third inning.  Omaha native Ryan Merrill hit his six home run of the season to boost the Horned Frogs' momentum. 

“Yeah, I don't hit many home runs so I was sprinting," Merrill said. "As soon as I saw it leave, that's when it just hit me how cool that experience is." 

Kaylor Chafin looked phenomenal in relief for the Aggies.  Chafin threw 4.2 innings and did not allow a run while striking out six Horned Frog batters.  Through his 4.2 innings of work, Chafin allowed three hits.  Chafin also threw a career-high 6.1 innings out of the bullpen in Texas A&M’s only other meeting with TCU this season.

Texas Christian will move on to play the loser of the Tuesday night game between the University of Florida and the University of Louisville, while Texas A&M was eliminated from the CWS with Tuesday's loss.