The Texas baseball team made quick work of the Houston Cougars in the Austin Super Regional. The Longhorns relied on solid pitching, great defense and timely hitting to eliminate the Cougars 4-0 Saturday and advance to the College World Series.
Texas will face the winner of the Oklahoma State/UC Irvine series in Omaha.
After missing the College World Series in 2012 and 13, Augie Garrido sees a difference in this team from last two seasons.
“The guys are really playing for each other, I keep saying that, but you can see it, Garrido said. They’re connected and they extended the rally.”
Texas did all of its damage in one inning.
Ben Johnson led off the fourth inning with a deep drive to left that was misplayed by Michael Pyeatt for a double. Mark Payton walked. Tres Barrera followed with a perfect bunt down the third base line that third baseman Connor Hollis could not field cleanly, loading the bases with no outs.
A Madison Carter ground out forced Johnson at home and the game remained scoreless with one out. CJ Hinojosa changed that with a two-RBI single to right center, scoring Payton and Barrera. After Hinojosa stole second, Collin Shaw hit a sacrifice fly to score Carter. Kacy Clemens then came through with a RBI single to score Hinojosa and Texas had a commanding 4-0 lead.
Parker French did not have his best stuff on Saturday. The right-hander labored early in the game, but kept Houston off the scoreboard. French pitched six innings, giving up five hits, two walks and two hit batters. He threw 87 pitches. He wasn’t going to let his team down.
“I just didn’t want to give in and when they got me the four, go do my job, pick them up, back up again. I think it was just pure willpower.”
Travis Duke, Morgan Cooper and John Curtiss finished the last three innings. Cooper got Texas out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by retiring Ashford Fulmer on a ground out to preserve the lead and the shutout. Curtiss worked around a single and a walk in the ninth to clinch the victory
Hinojosa led the hitting attack with two hits on the day. While Texas only managed eights, it made another Houston starter work hard in the afternoon heat. Aaron Garza did not make it out of the fourth inning. On Friday, the Longhorns knocked Jake Lemoine out in the fifth.
Texas will be making its 35th trip to the College World Series. For Payton, the only Longhorn on the roster who has been to Omaha, there is still work to do.
“It feels good but we aren’t done with our job yet, said Payton. We have a lot more work to do and a lot more baseball to play, but at this moment right now it feels good to know that we are getting closer on what we came back for and we have a chance to do that.”