At the beginning of the year, part of the reason that we felt so confident in this team was the fact that both Brian Howard and Mitchell Traver had made the decision to come back for their senior seasons. Opportunities like this are the reason that they decided to come back. They want the chance to be dominant in the postseason and lead the Frogs back to Omaha with a vengeance.
Brian Howard did just that last night with a four hit, complete game shutout of Kansas in which he threw 117 pitches and recorded a career high 12 strikeouts. Now Traver will get his chance under the spotlight.
Traver’s last start at Lupton was against Texas on May 7th, when he turned in his best outing of the season. He went 5 2⁄3 innings, allowing just two runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Sean Wymer followed that up with 4 1⁄3 innings of relief in which he allowed just one run, allowing TCU to come back from a 3-0 deficit and tie things up late, eventually winning the game in extras.
Hopefully we see a similar performance today. Thanks to Howard’s complete game yesterday Wymer and Coughlin haven’t pitched since Wednesday, and King and got a day of rest as well. All should be available for extended relief today. To win two games against UT today we’ll need all of them, and probably Feltman and some other bullpen guys to show up big as well.
Texas is 2-0 in the tournament after defeating Oklahoma and Kansas and getting the day off yesterday. The Longhorns needed help from their bullpen against the Sooners as their starter went just 4 1⁄3 innings. Chase Shugart, Morgan Cooper and Beau Ridgeway all saw action, and gave up a combined three runs. But by the time they entered the game Texas already had a four run lead off the strength of two home runs by Kacy Clemens and it was too much for the Sooners to overcome. Thanks to a complete game by UT’s Kingham in the win over Kansas, the Longhorn bullpen has had plenty of rest and should all be fresh for today’s semi-final matchup.
In addition to Kacy Clemens monster game against the Sooners, the Longhorns have also gotten strong tournament performances out of Zane Gurwitz, who is 5 of 8 with three runs scored, and Michael McCann who was 2 of 4 yesterday with two RBIs and a run scored.
When these two teams faced off earlier in the year Kyle Johnston got the start against Traver and pitched 6 1⁄3 innings of two-run, two-hit ball. He’s 3-1 on the year with a 3.41 ERA, so I’m guessing the Longhorns would feel comfortable going with him again. If not, the Frogs will likely see Morgan Cooper, who is 6-3 on the year with a 2.30 ERA. He went just three innings against TCU earlier this month, giving up seven runs on eight hits.
TCU needed the gem from Howard last night as they managed just five hits in the game. Elliott Barzilli is still producing and is 6 for 12 so far in the tournament with an RBI and two runs scored. Austin Wade is 4 for 9 with three RBIs and four runs scored. He was 0 for 1 last night, but walked three times and managed to score two runs. The big producer last night was Ryan Merrill, who was 2 of 4 with two RBIs. In the tournament he is 3 for 11 in the tournament with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The first game between TCU and Texas is scheduled for 12:30pm CT. If the Frogs win they will get the chance to eliminate the Longhorns and move to the championship game at 7:30pm CT. Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.