For the third year in a row, Texas A&M baseball met TCU in an elimination game. This time it was in the College World Series, but the result was the same.
After throwing their first two starters in a loss to Louisville, head coach Rob Chilress handed the ball to Stephen Kolek on more than two weeks rest. His opponent on the mound? Brian Howard. Howard shut down the Aggies in College Station last year to advance to the College World Series. It was only fitting that he’d be on the rubber for yet another Texas A&M vs. TCU elimination game.
Childress made the questionable decision with the lineup. He elected to roll with senior short stop Austin Homan. Homan entered the game 3-for-50 with one hit in the postseason. Texas A&M doesn’t have another proven option at short stop, so the offensive risk was just one that he had to take.
Texas A&M 1 – TCU 4 (Full Box)
Howard faced four batters in the first inning. He had three strikeouts. Kolek took the mound in the bottom half of the frame and promptly walked the first two batters before going up 3-1 on TCU slugger Evan Skoug. Kolek responded with a strikeout of Skoug and a strike ’em out, throw ’em out to escape the first.
Texas A&M starters in the College World Series combined to go 4.1 innings, allow nine hits, three walks and nine runs.
Kolek wasn’t as luck in the second or the third. A bloop double to left field and consecutive 6-3 ground outs resulted in the first run of the day for the Frogs in the second. TCU poured in on in the third, scoring three more runs and knocking the Aggie starter out of the game.
With the early exit, Texas A&M starters in the College World Series combined to go 4.1 innings, allow nine hits, three walks and nine runs. Ouch. On the other side of the mound, Howard was at his best. He allowed one run in seven innings, striking out a career high 12 batters. The 12 Ks tied the highest strikeout total in the history of TD Ameritrade Park.
Aggies attempt to rally late
It was Homan that would score the first Aggie run of the day. He led off the sixth inning with a scorching single and came across two batters later on a ground out to second off the bat of Braden Shewmake.
In the eighth inning George Janca chased Howard with a lead off double to deep center field. TCU would bring in Sean Wymer to counter and the Aggies couldn’t answer. Wymer worked five scoreless innings against Texas A&M at the Shriners’ College Classic. He picked up another six outs without a hit against A&M in Omaha.
Player of the Game – Kaylor Chafin
There are no words to accurately describe how good Kaylor Chafin was out of the bullpen on Tuesday. Two days removed from working 2.1 scoreless innings, Chafin entered and shut down a TCU lineup that was starting to see the ball well. In 5.1 innings of scoreless relief the southpaw allowed three hits while striking out six.
Chafin was a 32 Round pick of the New York Mets. It’s unlikely he’ll return to Texas A&M next season. If that is the case he can rest easy knowing he left in all in the field at the College World Series.
Naysayers will say the loss today continues a 13 year Aggie tradition of failures in Omaha. Texas A&M is still looking for its first College World Series win under Rob Childress, but let’s not get caught up in the moment and forget what this team accomplished in 2017.
The phrase “rebuilding year” has been thrown around ad nasuem in the past few weeks. When this Aggie team advanced to the College World Series they proved that the standard at Texas A&M is much higher than that. They lost a record 13 players to the MLB Draft in 2016, but rather than rebuild these guys reloaded.
Yes, 0-2 at the College World Series sucks. But this team was one of the “Last Four In” and they gave two of the nation’s best ball clubs a run for their money on the biggest stage. Hats off to Texas A&M baseball for an incredible year.
***Stats from SEC Sports***