The loser’s bracket ain’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty fun today. I was in Omaha to watch the Frogs lose to Florida on Sunday. That was tough to watch, but they had a very good pitcher who had an incredible day and that usually means your team is going to win. That’s what happened for the Frogs today.
Brian Howard has been hyped up a lot since Jim Schlossnagle dubbed him “Big Game Howie” after his Fort Worth Super Regional clinching performance just over a week ago. In the back of your mind you wonder if fawning publicly over how clutch a player is might affect his psyche and his “clutchness”. I wondered that, but it looks like Brian Howard never gave it a second thought. He just went right out and did what he does best: deliver dominant postseason pitching.
Howard pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on five hits and striking out 12 Aggies without issuing a single walk. It’s almost like he took it as a challenge to show people that his nickname actually didn’t quite do him justice. Through five innings, he had given up just two hits, and he was through 5 2⁄3 innings before he surrendered the only run for Texas A&M. The win improved Howard’s record to 12-3 on the year, and his ERA is down to 3.77 from around 5.00 at the end of the regular season.
TCU scored first to make it 1-0 in the second inning after Nolan Brown doubled to lead off, advanced to third on a groundout by Barzilli and crossed the plate on a groundout by Wanhanen. After a quick 1-2-3 inning by Howard, Ryan Merrill homered to lead off the third and make it 2-0. On a side note, all of the locals in Omaha that I spoke to still hold TCU as one of their favorite teams to root for, and having a hometown Omaha kid like Merrill hasn’t hurt.
Later in the third inning, Humphreys was hit by a pitch with one out and Skoug doubled to right-center to drive him in for a 3-0 lead. Skoug was later driven home on a single from Barzilli for TCU’s fourth and final run of the game. Sean Wymer jumped into the action in the eighth and put together two straight three-up-three-down innings on just 20 pitches to ensure that was all the runs the Frogs would need.
The win puts TCU at 48-17 on the season, and ensures that they get to play at least one more game on Thursday night against the loser of tonight’s game between Louisville and Florida. That game will take place at 7:00 pm CT on ESPN2. TCU will get to choose between Lodolo and Traver to take the mound in that game, and should have their entire bullpen available as well.
Like I said, today reminded us the loser’s bracket ain’t so bad...as long as you can keep winning.