Pitching in what could be his last collegiate game, Nathan Thornhill was not going to go out on the losing end.
Thornhill (9-3) threw a career-high 131 pitches as the Texas Longhorns forced a second game in the bracket finals with a 4-0 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The two schools will square off again Saturday, with the winner advancing to the College World Series championship series against either Virginia or Ole Miss.
Texas struck early, finally taking advantage of runners in scoring position.
Vanderbilt starter Tyler Ferguson hit Brooks Marlow to start the bottom of the first. Ben Johnson walked on four pitches and Mark Payton was hit by a pitch to load the bases. CJ Hinojosa came through with a line drive that hit the second base umpire. The play was ruled an RBI single. With the bases still loaded, Ferguson walked Madison Carter to force in Texas’ second run. Ferguson was pulled with two outs in the inning.
In second, the bats came alive. Zane Gurwitz and Marlow hit back-to-back triples to increase the lead to 3-0. Payton then dropped down a safety squeeze to score Marlow and Texas had a comfortable 4-0 lead after two innings.
That would be all the run support Thornhill would need. The senior pitched eight innings, giving up five hits and one walk while striking out five. After that performance, color Augie Garrido impressed.
“I thought it was a dominating performance, and I do think they were trying to run his pitch count up because of the heat and trying to get him out of the game” Garrido said in the postgame interview. “I think that was an accurate observation. Both Skip and I thought the same thing and passed on the information to Nate, and he has the kind of command where he can capitalize on something like that.”
Marlow reached base in all four plate appearances. Gurwitz had two hits.
It all comes down to Saturday’s game, but Garrido isn’t worried about his team being tight.
“They are motivating and inspiring each other. It’s no longer the coach’s job to tell them what’s right.”
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