July 12, 2024

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The Texas baseball team defeats Stanford in the regional baseball opener

The Texas baseball team defeats Stanford in the regional baseball opener

Stanford, Calif. – Over the course of this season, the ninth inning hasn’t been a place where Texans shine offensively.

En route to the NCAA Super Regional on Saturday, the Longhorns were 0-16 going into the ninth inning late. In fact, Texas only scored 11 runs in the ninth inning all season.

The children who returned, the Longhorns were not.

They say, though, that there is a first time for everything. And on Saturday, the Longhorns chose the perfect time to test that theory.

Texas scored five runs in the top of the ninth to upset Stanford in the best-of-three regional opener at the Sunken Diamond. With a 7-5 victory, Texas moved within one win of its 39th College World Series appearance. Stanford must now win two straight games to get to Omaha.

“I thought it was a great game,” said Utah coach David Pierce. “Stanford is a very good team and I’m proud of our guys. We kept fighting and gave ourselves a chance.”

Texas (42-20) and Stanford (42-18) battled to a 2-2 tie after five innings before the Cardinals used a two-run home run to pull away from Longhorn. And after being stranded with two runners on base in each of the seventh and eighth innings, UT went into the final frame looking for a miracle.

But Stanford conference reliever Ryan Bruno allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach base. After changing pitches, Mitchell Daly hit a fly ball that was dropped by Saborn Campbell in right field. The error allowed two runs to score, then Jared Thomas tied the game on a groundout.

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Texas loaded the bases again on two more walks, getting Porter-Brown ready for some late-game heroics. TCU’s move lifted the Longhorns into the first lead of the day with a one-out-of-one win from Stanford’s Matt Scott.

The Browns’ game-winning swing came at 3-1 in just one run after Bruno struck him out to end the eighth inning. That strike stranded two runners and left UT trailing by three runs.

“The coach always says it only takes one,” Brown said. “I had a hit earlier in the game…and then I had a couple of hits that didn’t go my way. This last game I came up with thinking all the pressure was on the pitcher. I took a lot of good pitches, got a good count and then I got on my fastball and put in a good swing.”

Brown’s single was actually the only hit in the ninth inning for Texas, which sent 10 batters to the plate. To open the inning, Eric Kennedy drew a walk. Then Bruno Jalen Flores was hit by a pitcher and loaded the bases by walking Jack O’Dowd. Kennedy, Flores, and O’Dowd all hit the base for full shows.

“We knew Bruno was like a pitcher, but we knew he was a savage sometimes,” said Kennedy. We knew we had to discipline him and get him into the area. Luckily we were able to pull off some difficult pitches there and he gave us some free passes.

We also talked about putting pressure on their defence. We felt like we could shame them sometimes. Discipline and pressure on them really played in our favor in ninth place.”

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Stanford coach David Esker said afterward that if Utah’s plan was to take the field against Bruno, “they caught him on the right day.” Bruno saved nine games, but also posted a 4.68 ERA and 31 walks over 32 innings.

“Ryan has done a great job for us all year, so we’re ready to take a step back with our mates,” said Esker, whose team was 35-1 going into the ninth inning with a lead. “They played a good game and hung in there until the end and got the big hit on the count.”

After a Texas rush, Zane Morehouse entered the game and made his seventh touchdown. The side hit in the ninth, every Stanford batter going down a swing.

The final strike retired rookie Malcolm Moore, who had tormented the Texans in throwing the ball throughout the game. Moore produced an RBI double and a two-run homer, drawing a bases-loaded walk during an uncharacteristically brutal first inning for Texas’ Lucas Gordon.

Gordon hit only 11 of his 26 pitches in the first and issued three walks. He entered the weekend having walked just 29 batters over 95 minutes.

Gordon eventually settled down and lasted 5 runs. Ace Whitehead was credited with the win after beating Stanford scoreless in the eighth.

Main play: After Texas fell 2-0, Kennedy hit a homer in the fifth. His 17th homer of the year not only tied the game 5-5, but tied it for eighth on the UT single-season chart.

Kennedy went 2-for-4 with a walk. The veteran outfielder also started for Texas in their 2021 and 2021 Super Regional Series against South Florida and East Carolina.

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Texas wins, but Campbell’s streak ends

Notable number: 38. Texas quarterback Dylan Campbell went 0-for-3. That ended his 38-game hitting streak that was a school record and 12 game record.

Campbell was intentionally walking in his last at bat, in the ninth. He was also awarded first base in the eighth when Moore was called for catcher’s interference on a two-hit dirty ball. Campbell also flew to left field and hit two runs in his other three games.

Pierce said he congratulated Campbell on the hitting streak after the game. “I said, 38, that’s so cool, huh,” the coach recalls. He said, “That’s right, I didn’t take a hit today.” I said, ‘But you’ve got a big win.’ I think he was comfortable with that trade-off.”

On Deck: An opportunity to book the flight to Omaha

Next for Texas: The Longhorns can book their trip to Omaha with a win in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ESPN2). The announced starting pitchers for the game will be Utah’s LeBron Johnson Jr. (8-3, 2.62 ERA) and Stanford southpaw Quinn Matthews (9-4, 3.65).