TCU's Brian Howard

TCU's Brian Howard (Kendall Rogers)

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Super Sunday: Scan Those Tickets

Postseason

The College World Series field is coming together. On Saturday, Louisville, Oregon State and Texas A&M clinched trips to Omaha by sweeping their respective super regionals. For reports on those games, check out Kendall Rogers’ column from College Station, Eric Sorenson’s piece from Corvallis and my story from Louisville.

So far on Sunday, three more teams have secured CWS bids: Cal State Fullerton won its rubber game at Long Beach State 2-1; TCU beat Missouri State 8-1 to complete a two-game sweep; and Florida State bludgeoned Sam Houston State 19-0 to sweep its own super regional. More details on those games below.

The second game of the Wake Forest-Florida series was suspended by rain with the Demon Deacons leading 5-4 in the fifth. Play will resume at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, and if Wake wins the two teams will play again 55 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

LSU and Mississippi State are still playing as of this writing; our Mark Etheridge is in Baton Rouge and will have a report up on that game late tonight.

ESPN ran a handy graphic tonight comparing the CWS histories of the six teams that have clinched CWS spots so far. I’ll borrow their information here:

• No. 1 national seed Oregon State: 6th CWS appearance (last in 2014); 2 national titles
• No. 6 national seed TCU: 5th CWS appearance (4th straight); 0 titles
• No. 7 national seed Louisville: 4th CWS appearance (last in 2014); 0 titles
Florida State: 22nd CWS appearance (last in 2012); 0 titles
• Cal State Fullerton: 18th CWS appearance (last in 2015); 4 titles
• Texas A&M: 6th CWS appearance (last in 2011); 0 titles

So we’ve got some blue bloods in this field already — two historical powers (FSU and Fullerton) and four established modern powers. All six have been to Omaha at least once this decade, but TCU is the only one that was there last year. The LSU/MSU winner will give this field a third traditional blue blood, while Florida could give the field a fifth modern power if it can beat Wake Forest. So Wake is the only team left standing that doesn’t qualify as either a “traditional” or “modern” power, but the Deacs are a 2017 powerhouse and a regional No. 1 seed. So any way you slice it, this is shaping up as a very compelling CWS field.

Sunday Highlights

• Long Beach State started fast in its super regional against Fullerton, scoring three runs in the first inning of Friday’s opener and holding on for a 3-0 win. But after that first inning Friday, Fullerton arms limited the Dirtbags to just one run in the next 26 innings. On Sunday, Colton Eastman was superb, allowing just one unearned run on one hit and four walks while striking out eight in seven innings of work. Long Beach had golden opportunities in the final two innings against closer Brett Conine, but Conine struck out cleanup man Ramsey Romano to strand men at second and third in the eighth, then struck out the dangerous David Banuelos with the tying run at third in the ninth to end it. The last two innings were appropriately intense given the magnitude of this game — the biggest game in the history of the storied Long Beach-Fullerton rivalry.

• I wrote about Brian Howard’s history of postseason excellence a couple weeks ago in the Big 12 tournament. Howard struck out 12 in a four-hitter that night against Kansas, then allowed just two runs over 6.2 strong innings in the regional clincher against Dallas Baptist. Add another bullet point on Howard’s distinguished big-game resume on Sunday — the towering righthander racked up 11 more strikeouts over 7.1 innings of one-run ball, leading the Frogs to an 8-1 win.

It’s not easy to subdue Missouri State’s explosive offense, but TCU pitching held the Bears to just three runs in two games. TCU catcher Evan Skoug — whose two-run homer lifted the Frogs to a come-from-behind 3-2 win on Saturday — came up big again Sunday, blasting a no-doubter two-run shot in the third inning to give TCU a commanding 4-1 lead. That was more than enough support for Howard and Sean Wymer, and the Frogs tacked on some more insurance runs late.

So TCU became the fifth program in the last 30 years to make four straight trips to Omaha, and the first to do it since North Carolina from 2006-09.

• Sam Houston State gave Florida State a scare in Saturday’s Tallahassee Super Regional opener, but the Seminoles stormed back from a 6-3 deficit with three in the seventh and then won 7-6 on Jackson Lueck’s walk-off single in the ninth. There would be no such drama on Sunday, as FSU jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, tacked on four more in the second and never took its foot off the throttle, cruising to a 19-0 blowout.

Leadoff man Taylor Walls went 3-for-3 with four walks, four RBIs and five runs scored to lead FSU’s 13-hit, 12-walk attack in support of Drew Parrish (5 IP, 0 R, 9 K). Florida State’s offense has come alive down the stretch, but its starting pitching has been nothing short of dominant since the start of the ACC tournament, posting a 1.50 ERA in 11 games. So the preseason No. 3 Seminoles head into Omaha looking very much like the legitimate national title contender we thought they would be back in January.

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