May 31, 2009
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Preston Clark hit a walk-off grand slam to propel the No. 5 Texas Longhorns to a 14-10 win over the Army Black Knights in the championship game of the NCAA Austin Regional on Sunday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
With the range full of Longhorns and the game tied 10-10 in the ninth, Clark came to the plate with one home run on the season and left the field with two. He launched a first-pitch offering into thedarkness down the leftfield line for the grand slam.
Texas (44-13-1) started the ninth inning down 10-6. Kevin Keyes walked and Cameron Rupp singled to rightfield to start the inning. Tant Shepherd pinch-hit for Tim Maitland and Jordan Etier pinch-ran for Rupp. Shepherd reached on an infield single to saturate the sacks. David Hernandez grounded out to plate Keyes and close the gap to 10-7. Travis Tucker drew a four-pitch walk and the bases reached maximum density again. Brandon Loy guaranteed the Horns wouldn't lose the game in the bottom of the ninth when he launched a base-clearing, wall-banger to left centerfield to tie the score at 10-10. Michael Torres and Brandon Belt each drew walks to reload the bases, setting up Clark's end-game.
Army (36-21) drew first blood in the top of the first inning. Texas had only given up one first-inning run through the first 36 home games before yielding the two spot. With one out, Andy Ernesto singled to left centerfield and a Clint Moore doubled down the leftfield line to put two runners in scoring position. Joey Henshaw grounded out to plate Ernesto and Moore scored on a wild pitch.
The Longhorns claimed a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second. Brandon Belt hit a leadoff double down the leftfield line and scored on a single by Clark. Keyes moved Clark to second with a sacrifice bunt and Rupp singled to centerfield to put runners at the corners. Connor Rowe moved Rupp to second with a bunt and Travis Tucker hit an infield single with the runners moving on the play to plate two for the 3-2 lead.
Army regained the advantage with two runs in the third. The inning featured a bases-loaded walk by Henshaw and an RBI groundout by Kevin McKague.
Another two-run panzer attack by Army in the fourth ballooned the lead to 6-3. Zach Price drove in one run with a single through the left side and Moore plated one with a groundout.
The Black Knights pushed the lead to 7-3 in the seventh when McKague tripled to right centerfield and Ben Koenigsfeld singled up the middle.
In the home half of the seventh, Keyes blasted a mammoth two-run shot to the scoreboard in left centerfield to close the gap to 7-6.
The Black Knights appeared to seal the victory with a three-run eighth inning that included a two-run home run to leftfield by Moore and a solo dinger over the 20-foot Monster in centerfield by Henshaw to give Army a 10-6 edge.
Clark paced the Horns' attack, going 2-for-6 with three runs and five RBI. Cameron Rupp had four hits, including one double. Keyes went 1-for-1 with two runs, two RBI and three walks.
Ernesto led the Army arsenal going 3-for-5 with two runs. Price, Moore, McKague, Koenigsfeld and Watkins each had two hits. Moore and Henshaw logged three RBI apiece.
Stayton Thomas (4-0) earned the win in relief with 1.1 scoreless innings. He yielded just one walk in the win.
Texas returns to action next weekend, hosting a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional against the TCU Horned Frogs.