College Sports

TCU ousts Missouri State to reach fourth consecutive College World Series

TCU shortstop Ryan Merrill (5) forces out Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman (11) to end the second inning during Sunday at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
TCU shortstop Ryan Merrill (5) forces out Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman (11) to end the second inning during Sunday at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. Special to the Star-Telegram

Evan Skoug homered for the second straight day, Brian Howard extended an impressive postseason pitching streak and TCU advanced to its fourth consecutive College World Series with an 8-1 super regional victory over Missouri State on Sunday night.

Skoug’s two-run homer gave the Horned Frogs (47-16) a 4-1 lead in the third inning after his two-run shot in the eighth of the opener erased a one-run deficit and sent TCU on the way to its first super regional sweep.

Howard (11-3) won his fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament start going back to last season, striking out 11 in 7 1/3 innings to help TCU become the first school since North Carolina (2006-09) with four straight trips to Omaha.

It’s the fifth CWS bid for the Horned Frogs, all since 2010. TCU, the No. 6 national seed, is looking for its first championship.

Hunter Steinmetz hit a leadoff homer for the Bears (43-20), who were trying for the second College World Series berth after knocking off host Arkansas in the Little Rock Regional. The other CWS trip was in 2003.

Missouri State starter Doug Still (8-3) gave up eight hits and four runs in five innings.

Elliott Barzilli hit a three-run homer in the ninth after putting the Horned Frogs ahead for good at 2-1 with an RBI double in the second. He had three hits along with Zach Humphreys and Cam Warner, who had an RBI single in the first.

A junior who is eligible for the major league amateur draft, Skoug moved into fourth on TCU’s single-season list with his 20th homer and fourth in five postseason games this season, all TCU wins.

Skoug, who walked to force home another run in the sixth, is tied for fourth on TCU’s career list with 36 homers.

Howard, the first TCU pitcher with consecutive 10-win seasons, has four straight clinching NCAA wins for the Horned Frogs going back to last season – the regional and super regional both years.

The 6-foot-9 right-hander bounced off the field and waved his cap to the crowd in his final home start when he was pulled after striking out Missouri State home run leader Jeremy Eierman in the eighth.

Sean Wymer replaced Howard and struck out the last four batters after a flyout. Howard, who returned for his senior year rather than sign with Houston as a 17th-round pick, twice escaped first-and-third jams with one out to secure his fourth NCAA start out of five with just one run allowed since last season. His career ERA in nine NCAA appearances is 1.96.

▪ Cal State Fullerton also clinched a spot in the College World Series.

The Titans will join No. 1 national seed Oregon State, No. 7 Louisville, Texas A&M and No. 6 TCU in the CWS, which starts Saturday in Omaha, Neb. The three other spots will be filled Sunday night and Monday.

Fullerton locked up an 18th CWS appearance, and second in three years, with a 2-1 win in Game 3 at Long Beach State.

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