No. 16 Baseball rallies in bottom of ninth to earn 4-3 victory over No. 19 Long Beach State
AUSTIN, Texas -- Preston Clark singled in a pair of runs and Hunter Harris followed with a RBI-base hit to drive in the game-winning run to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning as No. 16 Texas posted a 4-3 come-from-behind win over No. 19 Long Beach State in front of a season-high 5,607 fans at Disch-Falk Field on Friday, March 10.
The Longhorns' (12-8) victory gave them three in a row and upped their home record to 7-0 on the season, while the Dirtbags fell to 11-8 overall.
The game started as a pitcher's duel from the outset as Adrian Alaniz (Sinton, Texas) for Texas and Jared Hughes for Long Beach State kept the game scoreless through the first four innings of play. While Alaniz faced only one hitter over the minimum, Hughes surrendered only two singles and struck out six. In the top of the fifth, the Dirtbags began the inning with their first two hits of the contest - a base hit by Brandon Godfrey and an infield single off the bat of Tito Cruz - to place runners on first and second with no outs. Alaniz then proceeded to retire his next batter on a sharp line-out to center before tallying a strikeout and a fielder's choice grounder to keep the game scoreless.
One inning later, Long Beach State threatened again as Danny Espinosa tripled with two outs and Evan Longoria was intentionally walked. Alaniz then induced a sharp grounder to third that Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) made a nice grab and tag off the throw from Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas) to end the frame unscathed. Hughes, meanwhile, retired eight in a row and 15 of his last 16 to move the game to the seventh still knotted at 0-0. After two quick outs in the bottom of the seventh, the Horns mounted their first scoring chance since the second when Bradley Suttle (Boerne, Texas) walked and Preston Pehrson (Arnold, Md.) singled, but Hughes worked out of the jam with a ground ball to third base.
In the eighth, the Dirtbags started a one-out rally when a hit batter combined with a throwing error on a potential double-play grounder to put runners on the corners. Longoria then singled up-the-middle before a walk, a sacrifice fly from Cruz and a RBI-base hit off the bat of pinch-hitter Scott Bradley made it 3-0 in favor of Long Beach State. A Peoples one-out triple in the bottom half of the eighth followed by a RBI-groundout from Wheeless cut the lead to 3-1, but Hughes fanned his next batter to send the game to the ninth. After LBSU had another scoring chance averted in the top of the ninth by UT reliever Austin Wood (Kingwood, Texas), the Horns looked to put together a rally of their own in the bottom of the frame by using a leadoff walk, a one-out single from Suttle and another walk to load the bases. Clark (Rockwall, Texas) then grounded a hard chopper over the first baseman's head to bring in two runs and tie the game while setting the stage for Harris (Tulsa, Okla.), who singled through the left side on a 2-0 pitch to bring in Clay Van Hook (Brenham, Texas) with the winning run. Earning the win in relief was Wood, who allowed only two hits over the final 1.2 innings, while LBSU reliever Donnie Hume shouldered the loss. Notably, both starters received no-decisions despite tremendous outings as Alaniz allowed three unearned runs on five hits and struck out five over 7.1 innings and Hughes fanned nine over eight frames and gave up only two earned runs on four hits.
Headlining Texas' offense on the night were Peoples, who tripled and scored one run, Clark, who went 1-for-4 with two RBI, and Harris, who singled in the game-winning score in his first at bat since the final game of the 2004 College World Series against Cal State Fullerton (June 27). Long Beach State, meanwhile, had its attack led by Godfrey, who went 2-for-4, and Cruz, who collected two hits in three at bats and drove in one run. Of additional note for UT, Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) and Kyle Russell (Magnolia, Texas), who each singled on the evening, upped their current hit streaks to 14 and 10 games, respectively.
These two teams meet up in the second game of their series at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday, March 11 at 2 p.m. Central. For tickets, log on to www.TexasBoxOffice.com or call 1-800-982-BEVO.