With 33 pitches, TCU reliever Ryan Burnett has a College World Series win and a College World Series save.
Not a bad week. Heck, not a bad career.
The sophomore left-hander retired the one batter he faced Sunday against Texas Tech with one pitch and all 10 batters he faced in 3 1/3 innings Tuesday night against Coastal Carolina with an efficient 32 pitches for his first career save, helping TCU reach the CWS semifinals unbeaten for the first time.
“Everyone was giving me stuff two days ago about the one-pitch win. They were laughing about that, but I think I sort of earned this one,” Burnett said after Tuesday’s victory.
Yet he almost never had a chance.
A torn knee ligament in December threatened his season, after arm surgeries had already cut short his first two years.
I just couldn’t sit out another year. Honestly, it would have killed me.
TCU pitcher Ryan Burnett, on playing with a torn knee ligament
The 6-foot-2 pitcher from The Woodlands faced a decision — knee surgery that would likely mean missing another year or strap on a brace and keep pitching.
It wasn’t a difficult call.
“I just couldn’t sit out another year,” he said. “Honestly, it would have killed me. I love baseball. It doesn’t matter. I know scouts will see three injuries. But it’s for me. It’s for my team, also. We have such a good bond. We’re all close. I couldn’t let it slip by, just all the hard work of the past three falls.”
Burnett hurt his elbow in a game at Texas Tech as a freshman, in just his fourth outing. He red-shirted.
Last year, he hurt his elbow again at Texas Tech, interrupting a season in which he was 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 10 appearances.
Left-hander Ryan Burnett has a 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at TCU. He has struck out 55 and walked 11 in 51.3 innings, including 30 strikeouts and six walks in 30.2 innings this season.
When TCU went to the College World Series the past two years, he stayed home.
“When we went to Omaha, and he couldn’t be there, it was really hard for me,” said roommate Brian Howard, who started Tuesday’s victory against Coastal Carolina. “Because I would go back to the room and be so excited about a win, and Ryan was very excited for us, but you could tell he wanted to be out there so bad. So for two years in a row, for us to make it to Omaha and one of my best friends at TCU not be able to go with me, seeing what he did tonight and especially saving me, it was one of my favorite moments since I’ve been a part of this program.”
Burnett, 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA this season, finds himself the Frogs’ top left-handed relief option as they try to reach their first CWS championship series. He has pitched 30 2/3 innings, 10 more than his first two seasons combined.
“That’s a tribute to him and his toughness,” pitching coach Kirk Saarloos said. “Nobody better to see out there to finish a game like that.”
College World Series
TCU vs. Texas Tech or
7 p.m. Friday, ESPN