Baseball

‘Super’ Finish Horns Advance With Eight-Run 9th

Preston Clark capped an eight-run, bottom-of-the-ninth rally with a walk-off grand slam as Texas erased a 10-6 deficit to beat Army 14-10 to earn the Austin Regional title and advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2005 national title season.
The Horns entered the bottom of the ninth down by four runs to an Army team looking to push the Austin Regional to a final game. Up against the ropes and having struggled to come up with the big hits all game, the Longhorns put together a rally that only adds to the amazing 25 inning marathon from the night before.A walk by Kevin Keyes, a single from Cameron Rupp, and an infield single by Tant Shepherd loaded the bases with no outs in the inning. Hernandez hit an RBI groundout to the first baseman and Tucker followed with a walk to reload the bases for freshman Brandon Loy. Loy delivered with the biggest hit of his Longhorn career, a deep drive off of the top of the wall in left center, clearing the bases and tying the ballgame. He missed the walk off grand slam by inches.“To tell you the truth I was just trying not to hit into a double play,” said Loy. “I was just trying to relax and stay confident up there and I got the job done.”Torres and Belt followed with walks, placing the winning run 90 feet from home plate. Into the batter’s box stepped senior Preston Clark with the game on the line. Clark took the first pitch breaking ball and smacked it over the visitor’s bullpen for a walk off grand slam, only his second homerun of the season. “I’m still in shock,” said Clark. “I can’t express the excitement I have. As a little kid that’s what you dream about and it came true for me.”The celebration after the dramatic 14-10 victory was just as emotional as the night before with players jumping into each other and dog-piling at home plate. Even down four going into that final inning the players said they felt confident that the outcome would turn in their favor.“There was a lot of confidence in the dugout,” said Clark. “We didn’t think we were finished. We sure didn’t want to come back and play tomorrow. We wanted to end it today.”The final inning was surely an amazing comeback but Army’s performance on the night and throughout the tournament can’t be overlooked. The Black Knights won the first game in the afternoon against Boston College, then came out and took it right to the Longhorns, leading almost the entire ballgame.“The finish wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting without the tremendous competitive spirit from Army,” head coach Augie Garrido said after the ballgame.The Black Knights kept the pressure on and every time the Horns made a run to get back in the game, Army had an answer. The visitors jumped out to an early lead off Texas starter Taylor Jungmann and after the Longhorns answered in the second with three runs, the Black Knights put two more on the board in their next at bat. Army chased Jungmann after only 3-1/3 innings and increased its lead to 6-3 in the top of the fourth.The Longhorns put a dent in the Army lead in the fifth after an RBI single from Brandon Belt to drive in Travis Tucker. But Army got the run back in the seventh after a triple to right center from Kevin McKague and an RBI single from Ben Koeningsfeld.Kevin Keyes gave the Longhorns a huge lift in the bottom of the seventh and by lift I mean liftoff. After Clark reached on an error by the first baseman, Keyes hit a bomb off the scoreboard in left center to bring the Horns back within one. But Army came back and greeted reliever Kendal Carrillo quite rudely with back-to-back homeruns from Clint Moore and Joey Hanshaw, both all-tournament selections for Army. At that point the score was 10-6 and it set the stage for the monster ninth inning Longhorn rally. All-Tournament selections for the Longhorns included Austin Wood, who was also Most Outstanding Player, Preston Clark, Cameron Rupp, Travis Tucker, and Kevin Keyes.Texas is scheduled to play TCU in the Super Regional. Game times are still to be determined but it will take place at UFCU Disch-Falk Field next weekend.