For the first time in four years, the Texas Longhorns advanced out of the regional round of the NCAA Baseball Championship and they did so in dramatic fashion. Now, Texas is just one step away from returning to the College World Series, but standing in the Horns’ way are the Horned Frogs of TCU.
The Longhorns are now in the Super Regionals, but it took some heroic efforts from Austin Wood, Preston Clark and others to get the Horns this far.
Texas opened the Austin Regional with a 3-1 win over fourth-seeded Army, in which starter Cole Green not only pitched seven strong innings on the mound, he also stepped up and took his first at-bat since his senior year of high school after first baseman Brandon Belt was injured. Green went 1-for-1 with a sacrifice bunt and Texas went on to the winners’ bracket of the regional, where they would stay.
And it wasn’t easy. The next day, the Horns took on the Boston College Eagles for what they assumed would be a nine-inning battle for control of the regional. Well, it was a battle alright but it was most certainly not nine innings.
Texas and Boston College played for 25 innings Saturday night, the longest game in the history of college baseball. During the game, Wood provided Texas with one of the greatest athletic performances in school history, pitching 13 innings, including 12 and a third innings of no-hit ball (Wood’s cap has since been sent to Cooperstown to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame). Texas won the seven-hour baseball game, 3-2.
But there would be no rest for the weary. Texas faced Army again and with a win the Horns would move on to the Super Regional. Heading into the ninth inning, though, it looked as if Army was going to extend the Austin Regional out to Monday, as they were leading the Longhorns 10-6. But an incredible eight-run ninth, capped by a walk-off grand slam from Clark, ended the regional in Texas’ favor.
Now, if the Horns take two out of three, it’s off to Omaha.
2009 NCAA DIVISION I BASEBALL AUSTIN SUPER REGIONALTexas vs. TCU (Best of 3 series)Saturday, June 6-Monday, June 8UFCU Disch-Falk Field, Austin, Texas
SCHEDULE (All times Central) Saturday, June 6Game 1 (5 p.m. Central; ESPNU)
Sunday, June 7Game 2 (2 p.m. Central; ESPN)
Monday, June 8 (if necessary)Game 3 (noon or 6 p.m. Central; ESPN/ESPN2)
Full 2009 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship bracket
Opponent Capsule: TCU
Head Coach: Jim Schlossnagle
Team Batting Average: .312
Team ERA: 4.17
Ace: Kyle Winkler (7-0, 3.95 ERA, 46 SO)
Big Stick: Matt Vern (.363 BA, 13 2B, 15 HR, 50 RBI)
How they advanced: To get to the Super Regional TCU beat Oregon State in back-to-back games, 13-1 and 5-4, in the Fort Worth Regional.
If there’s one thing TCU can do, it’s hit the ball. The Horned Frogs have hit 62 homeruns (compared to 36 by the Longhorns) over the course of this season and their bats have been so effective they still have a 2-3 record when their opponent scores ten or more runs.
But despite TCU’s effectiveness at the plate this season, the Longhorns managed to shut out the Horned Frogs when they played earlier this season. Five Texas pitchers (Green, Austin Dicharry, Stayton Thomas, Taylor Jungmann and Brandon Workman) combined to get the shutout, as Texas beat TCU 6-0.
Texas will hope to continue that success against TCU when they take on the Horned Frogs starting this Saturday.