Cam Warner insisted he is not doing anything differently.
Except hitting home runs.
The junior second baseman hit his second in three games at the Fort Worth Regional, powering TCU to an 8-1 victory against Arizona State and a berth in a Super Regional series this week.
Warner, a junior from Canberra, Australia, drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left-center at Lupton Stadium for a two-run home run in the eighth that gave the Horned Frogs (45-15) a 7-1 lead and headed them to their sixth NCAA regional championship in eight seasons.
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TCU will meet Texas A&M in College Station in a best-of-three series for a berth in the College World Series. The Aggies defeated Minnesota 8-2 late Sunday to advance to the super regionals.
The Frogs have reached Omaha the past two seasons.
With Sunday night’s win, TCU has six NCAA regional championships: 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Warner homered Friday in TCU’s regional opener to break open a close game against Oral Roberts.
“I don’t think it’s anything different,” Warner, who had three home runs before Friday, said of his at-bats this weekend. “I mean, I’m still sticking with my same approach, same swing. I’m putting good swings on balls, and the balls are traveling out of there, I guess.”
Warner was named the tournament MVP, going 5-for-16 with two home runs and six RBIs. He played error-free at second base.
Warner’s drive to left-center scored Austen Wade, whose single off the glove of first baseman David Greer had scored Dane Steinhagen from second base and made it a 5-1 game. It was the decisive blow in a four-run inning.
I’ve said all year, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to starting pitching. And we got three really good starts this week.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle
Junior right-hander Brian Howard (8-2) struck out nine, walked none and gave up just one run in eight innings for TCU, needing only 94 pitches.
He was staked to a 3-0 lead in the second inning on Wade’s sacrifice fly, Warner’s bloop double and Evan Skoug’s infield single.
“Getting the lead with Brian on the mound, we knew we were in good standing right there,” Warner said.
Steinhagen had three hits, and Wade, Warner, Skoug and Luken Baker each had two hits as part of TCU’s total of 14.
“We’ve been a balanced offense all year. That’s been a strength of our team and a strength we haven’t had in a couple of years,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “But I’ve said all year, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to starting pitching. And we got three really good starts this week.”
17Consecutive batters retired to finish his appearance by TCU pitcher Brian Howard. He struck out nine and walked none on 94 pitches in eight innings.
Josh Watson added an RBI double in the seventh inning for TCU, which won for the 12th time in 13 games.
Arizona State got its run on Greer’s single in the third inning. Howard got out of a jam by getting catcher Brian Serven, leading the Sun Devils with five RBIs in the tournament, to fly to right field and center fielder Andrew Shaps to ground out.
“We played a very clean brand of baseball all weekend,” Schlossnagle said. “With the exception of an 0-2 pitch, three-run homer yesterday, one thing that needs to be mentioned is how well we pitched. ... Really excited about that. Happy to be moving on and looking forward to the next round.”
Howard, Trieglaff (9) and Skoug. Erives, Martinez (8), Todd (8), Higgins (9), Stadler (9) and Serven. W—Howard. L—Erives. 2B—TCU: Warner, Steinhagen, Baker, Watson; Arizona State: Serven. HR—TCU: Warner. SB—TCU: Wade
Records—TCU: 45-15; Arizona State: 36-23.
TCU vs. Texas A&M, TBA