‘Big Game Howie’ helps Frogs stave off CWS elimination against Texas A&M

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And there has been a lot of memorable moments.“Obviously the story of today was Brian Howard,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Big Game Howie, as he’s affectionately known in Fort Worth, showed up today.”‘Big Game Howie’ did what ‘Big Game Howie’ does. Howard tossed seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits.Tuesday’s outing moves Howard to 6-0 in 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in his career. He has a 1.87 ERA in 53 innings with 50 strikeouts. “My teammates are putting me in the position to play in the postseason and then doing great things behind me and offensively,” Howard said. “It’s really my teammates going out there and doing what they do for me, playing great defense and putting runs on the board.”Howard started the game by striking out six of the first seven batters to get through two scoreless innings. In the third, pitching with a 1-0 lead, Howard set down the Aggies in order. When he went out for the fourth inning, TCU had opened the advantage to 4-0. Howard responded by continuing to dominate. The Aggies picked up a single but three easy outs, including his seventh strikeout, ended the inning.As the Horned Frog bats cooled off, Howard continued to mow down the A&M hitters. Howard struck out two batters in both the fifth and sixth innings to give him his third double-digit strikeout performance in his four postseason starts this season. A couple hits allowed the Aggies to scratch a run across in the sixth, but Howard stranded a runner on third to keep the lead at 4-1.“I’m not going to apologize for losing to [Howard],” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “That guy’s a really good pitcher.”With his pitch count in check, Howard returned to the mound in the seventh and picked up his 12th strikeout in a scoreless frame to match his career high in punch outs. His previous 12 strikeout game was May 26 in the Big 12 Conference Tournament when he threw a complete game shutout against Kansas.“I think today was probably the best stuff I had all season,” Howard said. “I’m pumped I didn’t walk anybody. I felt like I was attacking the strike zone from the beginning and I was able to carry that through.”Howard allowed a leadoff double to George Janca in the eighth, leading Schlossnagle to bring in Sean Wymer from the bullpen. Two strikeouts and a groundout later, Wymer had the Frogs three outs away from staving off elimination. Instead of going to the nation’s leader in saves, Durbin Feltman, Schlossnagle stuck with his most reliable reliever. Wymer set down A&M in order in the ninth to seal the 4-1 win and pick up his second save of the year. Sean Wymer picks up his second save of the season. (Photo by Sam Bruton)“It means a lot to see him go out there and do what he does and then finish the game for him,” Wymer said of getting to finish off Howard’s masterpiece. “It was pretty special.”The TCU offense manufactured a run in the second when Nolan Brown blooped a double down the third baseline before two ground balls moved him home. Brown’s run was the first for TCU in over 10 innings in this year’s CWS as the Horned Frogs were shutout by Florida in the opener Sunday.The third inning saw TCU grow its lead to four. Omaha native Ryan Merrill led off the inning with a long home run off A&M starter Stephen Kolek to the back wall of the right field bullpen. Omaha native Ryan Merrill rounds the bases after a solo home run in his hometown. (Photo by Sam Bruton)“As soon as I saw it leave, that’s when it just hit me how cool that experience is,” Merrill said. “I’m doing my best just to keep playing baseball with the group of guys that I’m sitting next to, so it was pretty incredible.”After a hit batter, Evan Skoug roped a double into right center for the third TCU run. Skoug had gone down on strikes in four of his five plate appearances in Omaha before the RBI two-bagger. Skoug came around to score TCU’s final run of the day three batters later on a run-scoring single to right by Elliott Barzilli.Kolek was pulled from the game after Barzilli’s hit, and Aggie reliever Kaylor Chafin entered. Chafin, who allowed one run in 6.1 innings against TCU in the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic March 4, shutdown TCU again. He held TCU scoreless over the final 5.1 innings, surrendering just three hits while walking none and striking out six. “I treat it like every other game,” Chafin said of his successful outings against TCU. “I go out and try to do the best I can for my team and give them a chance to win, but it didn’t happen today.”For Texas A&M, their improbable run as a regional three seed turned College World Series team was cut short after just two games in Omaha. For the third straight year, TCU eliminated A&M from the postseason. In both 2015 and 2016, the Horned Frogs won three-game Super Regionals against the Aggies. For the Horned Frogs, a game two win keeps their fourth straight trip to Omaha alive. TCU will play the loser of Tuesday’s winner’s bracket game between Louisville and Florida on Thursday night at 7. TCU will need to win three games in three days to advance to its first College World Series championship series. Schlossnagle has yet to announce a starting pitcher for Thursday’s game.“It will either be Lodolo or Traver,” Schlossnagle said. “I want to think about it a little bit. Both those guys are tuned up and ready to go.” + posts Twitterlast_img read more

Layman’s turn: Maryland forward prepares for expanded role as full-time starter

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Claire and Tim Layman tried to convince their son Jake to focus on their respective sports.Tim played baseball at Maine and Claire played basketball there, too. They knew their son had the ability to play either game at a high level. It was only a matter of time until he chose one.“She coached me a lot and was a big part of my basketball world,” Jake Layman said, “and then there was my dad saying I should play baseball.”Layman said he didn’t need to make a decision while growing up. Baseball and basketball were played in different seasons.“But as I got older,” Layman said, “I realized basketball was my calling.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLayman’s decision led him to run alongside some of the country’s best players in his age group, something a bat and glove could have never done.Entering his second year with Maryland, Layman is wading into the prime of his collegiate career. After averaging 5.5 points and starting 17 games last season, the sophomore forward will have an increased role with the Terrapins this season and is certain his familiarity with high-level competition has prepared him for it.“My confidence level is as high as it’s ever been right now,” Layman said, “and I’m feeling good about it.”It was just an intra-squad scrimmage, but the U-17 Boston Amateur Basketball Club was playing at full speed.A consensus top AAU team in the country, BABC was playing in a tournament in Los Angeles and tuning up before the start. Playing defense in the half court, Layman was reminded of how good the team was.When a guard drove into the lane, Layman stepped up to stop the penetration. The guard dished the ball and when Layman turned, another teammate, Nerlens Noel, dunked over him.“Yeah, he just dunked on me,” Layman said laughing. “We had a really good team.”When Layman was a sophomore in high school, his mother Claire, a pragmatist, wanted to gauge how good her son was. She went to Leo Papile, the coach and founder of BABC and former senior director of basketball operations with the Boston Celtics, to see if there was a spot on his team.Impressed, Papile made Layman a role player on a star-studded squad.“His mom wanted to know if her son could really play and he could,” Papile said. “He started out on the bottom of the pile.”That team ended up winning the 10th-grade national championship. By the end of the year, Layman was in the rotation off the bench.With his sights set on playing Division I basketball, Layman embraced the role. While he shined at King Philip Regional (Mass.) High School, it was with Papile and BABC where he made his name.That was where he honed his physical gifts and discovered his natural scoring touch. At the time, Layman was 6 feet 8 inches and 205 pounds, but he was still growing throughout high school and had to deliberately refine his skills to keep up with his physical development.And when he did that, he earned a spot on another loaded roster — the U.S. U-18 national team.In the summer before his freshman season at Maryland, Layman traveled with that team to the FIBA U-18 championship in Brazil.Led by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, the United States earned a gold medal after a 5-0 finish. Layman, once again, came off the bench. He played 12.2 minutes per game and averaged 7.6 points, the fifth most on the team.“There was a ton of great players that I had all heard of before,” Layman said, “and playing with them that summer prepared me for anything I’d face at the next level.”A week before the 2013 season opened, Papile created a hypothetical situation where he pondered Layman’s NBA potential. If Layman were European, Papile said, he would have been drafted in the first round right out of high school.In his freshman season, he was only overtly impressive in flashes. But he worked all summer on his shooting stroke and ball handling, hoping to become more than just the role player he’s always been.“He was a little rocky last year, but when he heated up, he really could stroke it in games,” Maryland guard Nick Faust said during the Atlantic Coast Conference media day. “(Now) he’s just been stroking. So we just try to get him off screens and let him shoot.”Outside of high school basketball, Layman was always a bench player. It didn’t matter that some of the nation’s best programs wanted him. He played sparingly for the U.S. U18 team and never started for BABC.But now he’s nestling into a starting role with the Terrapins, and there’s no question that he chose the right sport.“Jake’s best days are ahead of him,” Papile said. “Here’s a guy with a sparkling basketball resume. Maryland has something going for it with him.” Comments Published on November 7, 2013 at 2:22 am Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more