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June 20, 2017

Jim Schlossnagle

Sean Wymer

Ryan Merrill

Brian Howard

Omaha, Nebraska

TCU - 4, Texas A&M - 1

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by TCU.

COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: Congratulations to Texas A&M on a great season. Rob's a close friend, and am really happy for him and the season they had, the run they made down the stretch. It's just awesome to see.

Obviously the story of today was Brian Howard. And Big Game Howie, as he's affectionately known in Fort Worth, showed up today.

Just amazing through especially the great pitching history of our program in the last 14 years. Had a lot of really good pitchers, Big Leaguers, that kind of thing, and for Brian to be the only back-to-back 10-game-or-more winner in our program is an awesome statement for him and Coach Saarloos and the program in general.

And just really happy for Ryan Merrill. What an awesome opportunity for a guy who is from Omaha. Went to junior college across the river and was drafted out of junior college and could have never shown up at TCU.

But I remember we were up at practice that June, right after he'd been drafted. Assured me he wanted to come to TCU because he wanted an opportunity to play in his hometown in the College World Series.

And so for him to get to do that two years in a row and hit a home run in TD Ameritrade, what an awesome story. Excited for the win and looking forward to a day off.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Brian, you dominated today. You had a career high with 12 strikeouts. Was this game probably some of the best stuff you had all season?
BRIAN HOWARD: Yeah, I think today was probably the best stuff I had all season. I'm pumped I didn't walk anybody. I didn't give up any free bases. I felt like I was attacking the strike zone from the beginning and I was able to carry that through. We talked pregame about how aggressive that lineup was, and they were aggressive today. They're a real good lineup. And I was able to make pitches and get some outs early in counts, which was good.

Q. Ryan, does your name go on a wall in Omaha or something? What happens now?
RYAN MERRILL: I hope not. But, yeah, it was a great game. I'm just excited we get to keep playing baseball. That's what it's about, and we're having fun. So I just want to keep playing.

Q. Ryan, when you have Big Game Howie out there, as they call him, what's the confidence level like? What's the feeling like when you wake up in the morning and you know Big Game Howie is going to be out there for you guys?
RYAN MERRILL: It's pretty incredible. And it's easy from my end because I'm his roommate. So I get to wake up with it.

But, no, it's amazing playing behind him, it's just that passion he has. It's incredible. And it's actually very easy on us.

Q. When you saw Ryan's home run go out, did you think breathing room? What did you think for him?
BRIAN HOWARD: I wasn't thinking. I just normally sit down against the back wall and take everything in and try not to show any emotion or move or really cheer while we're on offense while I'm pitching. But immediately when it was hit, I jumped up onto the top rail and started going nuts, because, I mean, that was just a special moment for everyone, his parents, obviously.

I mean, it was just really neat to see that. He said he blacked out around first, which was probably true. But that was just incredible. He talks about -- he always tells me stories about "I saw them win the national championship here" and all that stuff. He's been here since he was a kid, and to see him do that was really special.

Q. Ryan, I think Brian stole my thunder a little bit because he said you blacked out. But I guess before you got to first base, what were you thinking when the ball left the bat, and could you just comment a little bit on the meaning of that hit here in your hometown?
RYAN MERRILL: Yeah, I don't hit many home runs so I was sprinting. As soon as I saw it leave, that's when it just hit me how cool that experience is.

But it was just 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.

Q. Ryan, we all see this guy pacing around out there on the mound and dugout. There's a lot of energy there. Is that the same in the hotel room? You've got to like try to keep this guy contained, or what's it like before a start?
RYAN MERRILL: He's my roommate at home. I live with him in an apartment. The hotel, I feel bad for Nick Lodolo there's a lot going on. He's a great guy, one of my best friends, and it's awesome to see him do what he does.

Q. Sean, after you came in for Brian, what did it mean to you to close the game out and not let Texas A&M back in the game?
SEAN WYMER: It was special for me to see what he did before me, and I did the same thing in the Super Regional too. So it means a lot to see him go out there and do what he does and then finish the game for him. So pretty special.

Q. Brian, there's a thing going around that you had a blister formed on your thumb. Was that accurate? And then did that affect you in any way? Because it didn't look like it.
BRIAN HOWARD: It was accurate, and it affected me on every hit I gave up. But other than that, it was fine. (Laughter).

Q. Brian, you're 6-0 in your NCAA tournament starts. What do you think when you hear that?
BRIAN HOWARD: Once again, my teammates are putting me in position to play in the postseason and then doing great things behind me and offensively when I get the ball, because, I mean, it's about run support to get wins. Pitching wins, kind of a topic of debate nowadays, and, I mean, so if I go out there and dominate they don't score any runs, I lose. And so then you're talking about that.

It's really my teammates going out there and doing what they do for me, playing great defense and putting runs on the board and letting me get some breathing room and then go execute pitches.

Q. Brian, you obviously had some success against the Aggies the last couple of years. Having seen them before, did it help you prepare and kind of develop a game plan for those guys, and did you kind of see what you expected from them today?
BRIAN HOWARD: Well, it was a completely different team mostly from the last time I pitched against them. So I didn't really take that into account.

But, I mean, the game is pretty much the same for me no matter who I'm playing. I just want to execute pitches down at the bottom of the strike zone and use my frame to get weak contact. And I was able to do that today. And, I mean, the fact that it was Texas A&M doesn't really mean anything besides I got to play against Walker again and that's fun.

It just comes down to executing pitches. If you're able to do that, you're going to have success. If you don't, you're going to pay for it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, can you just -- there was one play where Sean made -- where the ball's hit sharply back to him. Could have gone to second. Made the smart play to go to first. Little things like that save I guess some gray hairs on your head when they do that?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: No doubt about it. We call it an out game. Basically when -- it wasn't quite true there, where an out game is when you're up by more than there are outs to get. So you just make sure you get an out wherever you can get an out. But we were yelling that anyway. But Sean is one of our best fielding pitchers. He's a computer science major. You can tell he's not very emotional and he pays attention to what's going on and did a good job checking the runner back.

He almost was too quick to first. I preferred he would have run and flipped the ball to first base because he almost flipped it past Michael. Huge part of the game, no doubt about it. Especially after Warner just missed that popup and they follow up with a double. It's nice to have a guy like Wymer and Feltman that can put out a fire pretty quickly.

Q. Coach, obviously we've talked before about Howard kind of flipping the switch in the postseason. Is it just a matter of his competitiveness and the intangible part of it, or was there something that changed from the midseason to now?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I don't think anything changed. I think the whole team, it's experience. Freshman year he threw 13 innings, four of them were in the 22-inning game in the Regional against Sam Houston State. He threw nine innings at that point. He throws four or maybe five shutout innings in like the 15th to the 20th inning or whatever it was. It was crazy. So from that point on I think he's been -- when you're in the fire enough, you know how to handle it.

And not that he doesn't try to give us great effort during the regular season, but I think he's been in this before. And so he knows how to channel all that Brian Howard-ness energy to the right spot. And I also think getting Janczak back and having Howie in the right spot also helps.

But, yeah, we're certainly glad he's still here and sure would love to see him get a chance to pitch again.

Q. Most people look at this and say it wasn't a typical A&M/TCU game, but I'm sure you don't feel quite that way in the dugout, still trying to get outs?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: No, all I could see was a hit, an error, a walk and somebody getting it up in the wind and here we go 15 innings later.

But we fought some awesome games with those guys, and we've been fortunate to come out on top of on a few of them. But it doesn't diminish how much respect we have for their program, I have for Rob, we have coaching staff to coaching staff. We talked at home plate. When the umpires were talking, I said: Let's make a deal. Let's never play each other again if we can control it unless it's here. He said: Yeah, preferably not in loser's bracket game.

I'd sign that contract every day.

Q. Do you know who you'll throw out there on the mound on Thursday?
COACH SCHLOSSNAGLE: I don't. It will be either Lodolo or Traver. I want to watch this game. We've played Florida. We spent a lot of time scouting them leading up to that first game. I want to think about it a little bit. Both those guys are tuned up and ready to go. So we'll make a decision probably tomorrow.


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