It seems that it's the fourth time that's a charm for these Horned Frogs.
Starter Brian Howard was great, Luken Baker hit another bomb - this one to the opposite field on a pitch high and outside - but Tuesday night was all about reliever Ryan Burnett, who retired all ten batters he faced against CCU is a perfect 3.1 innings.
“It feels awesome. I’ve been waiting two years on this,” said Burnett, a sophomore left-hander from The Woodlands who has had the past two seasons cut short by elbow surgeries and is playing with an ACL injury now. “It’s definitely a blessing. I’m honored. I worked my butt off this fall, this spring, just to get here once again. I love it right now. It’s awesome.”
After being a question mark in the early goings, the TCU bullpen has become a dangerous weapon for Jim Schlossnagle in the post-season. They will need them to come through a few more times to accomplish the ultimate goal.
"Right now we're 4-for-4 on guys coming out of the bullpen and getting the first guy out," Schlossnagle said. "That's important in any game, but it's really important here with the great offenses Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina have."
This is great stuff. Burnett is a quirky guy - he is a left-handed pitcher after all - and Howard took the interview as an opportunity for release some of his pent-up 'frustration' about some of his odd habits. The result is pretty hilarious.
“This is good,” Howard continued. “I get to get some of this out. He microwaves all of his food. He’ll come through the drive-through, come straight to home and he’ll go and microwave. He’s one of my closest friends on the team, one of my best friends at TCU. He’s got quirks. He’s great about them. He knows when you see him doing it, he’ll put his head down and smile.”
Good stuff here on Luken Baker - the Frogs are 11-0 in games he hits a homer - and Brian Howard, who only recently developed the curveball that was so devastating against the Chants Tuesday night.
“We knew coming in that he would attack with fastballs, and I worked the last few days on staying through baseballs instead of pulling off like I did for a lot of the Texas A&M series. I got a fastball up and away that I could handle and put a good swing on it, and I was a little more excited than I have been for a few of the ones in the past because it was my first opposite-field one, and it felt really good.”
While the ACC and SEC, who sent 17 teams to the post-season and one a piece to the CWS, went oh-for-Omaha, the Big 12 is 5-1 in bracket play, with the only loss being the Red Raider's opening game decision against the Frogs. The SEC has been historically great, but this post-season was a failure for the supposed best baseball conference in the country.
Meanwhile, Tech will have a chance for a rematch against the Frogs and an opportunity to work their way back into the championship series, and Oklahoma State is just a win away from getting there themselves. An all-Big 12 Final is not only not out of the question, but looking almost likely, as the conference can claim half the remaining field.
For the first time in nine years, the SEC won't place a team in the championship series. The league didn't win a game in Omaha. Neither did the ACC. Together, the two power conferences were picked on Memorial Day weekend to host 13 of 16 NCAA regionals and awarded 17 of 64 spots.