Eric Doennig (MSU Sports Information) FORT WORTH, Texas – Behind an early offensive surge and a shutdown pitching performance from Brian Howard, TCU handed Missouri State a season-ending 8-1 setback Sunday evening to wrap up the Fort Worth Super Regional title at Lupton Stadium.
Howard (11-3) handcuffed the Bears’ offense throughout the night, allowing a leadoff home run to Hunter Steinmetz in the bottom of the first and little else over his 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander scattered four total hits while striking out 11 Bears and walking just two to secure the Horned Frogs (47-16) fourth-consecutive trip to the College World Series.
TCU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Cam Warner’s two-out single—the first of three hits on the night for the TCU second baseman. For the second time in six NCAA postseason games, Steinmetz blasted a leadoff homer on Howard’s second pitch of the evening, knotting the score at 1-1.
But the No. 6 national seed went right back to work in the second against MSU starter Doug Still (8-3), as a Nolan Brown infield hit and an Elliott Barzilli double to start the inning gave Howard and the Frogs all the offense they would need.
Horn Frogs catcher Evan Skoug extended the lead to 4-1 in the third, launching his second two-run homer in as many games in the Super Regional after a leadoff single by Zach Humphreys. TCU’s early outburst included at least two hits in each of the first three innings, including two each from Humphreys and Barzilli.
Howard, who worked out of jams in both the first and second frames, would cruise through the middle portion of the game, allowing just one hit between the third and sixth innings. The Bears (43-20), who scored just three runs and hit .152 (10-for-66) overall in the two Super Regional games, struggled to string hits together against the senior from St. Louis, going just 1-for-13 with runners on base and 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on the night.
The Horned Frogs put the game on ice in the eighth, as Barzilli’s three-run homer off Jake Fromson stretched the margin to seven runs. Sean Wymer finished off TCU’s fifth Super Regional title by retiring the final five Bears he faced, including three straight strikeouts in the ninth.
Barzilli finished the night 3-for-4 with four RBIs, while both Humphreys and Warned chipped in three hits and Skoug drove home three runs for TCU.
The Bears capped their 2017 season with 43 victories, matching the 2002 MSU squad for the third-most in program history.