- Texas won for the first time in 19 games from a seventh-inning deficit.
- Texas hit three home runs in the last three innings.
- The horns are in the game despite below-par outings from pitchers Pete Hansen and Lucas Gordon.
- Skyler Messinger’s three-run blast propelled it to seventh place.
They were down and almost out.
The stats reminded us that after seven innings Texas was trailing 0-18.
And boy were the Horns behind – 7-4 to be exact.
Then it happened.
My buddy Kirk Bohls calls it Texas Magic.
Replay: Texas extends baseball season with comeback and walkoff win
Seemingly doomed to die, the Longhorns ordered the undertaker to go hiking for at least one more day.
Douglas Hodo III’s double explosion in the seventh provided the needed oxygen. Skyler Messinger’s three-run tie an inning later had Longhorn Nation raging, then the two biggest hits of Dylan Campbell’s young life — a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth and the game winner from the right field wall in the ninth — brought him on to cult hero status in Saturday’s 9-8 thriller over East Carolina at the Greenville Super Regional.
“No matter what the score is or what time it is in the game, we just know we’re never out of the game,” Campbell told reporters. “We just fight to the end, and today it happened in our favor.”
This super region is walking its distance because a traditional baseball power refused to give in to a program that yearns to break through for a first-ever College World Series appearance.
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Clark-LeClair Stadium is a baseball cracker box, and the best slugging team in school history awoke from an afternoon lull and flexed their collective muscles in front of nearly 6,000 purple-clad Pirate fans, many of whom deftly blitzed the Horns Down, as if they had come by bus from Norman, Okla., and College Station.
Texas hit three homers in the last three innings – all to that attractive short fence in right field – to end any “two and crickets” talk.
It didn’t start like that.
East Carolina overtook Texas in the first 15 innings of the weekend. The Pirates beat David Pierce’s Longhorns.
passed her. Defended her. I uncoupled her.
They came close to sweeping the Horns and preventing them from becoming the first Texan team to advance to Omaha since the 2005 national champions by winning a Super on the road, but they blinked quite a bit, and the Horns fell even though right-hander Andre Duplantier II gave up a game-changing explosion at the top of ninth place.
Speaking of 2005, the Horns have stayed alive in a hostile environment reminiscent of what Drew Stubbs, J. Brent Cox, Seth Johnston and co. went through in the Oxford Super Regional, which they won in three games before they lifted the trophy in Omaha. Left fielder Nick Peoples, who displayed some Campbell-like exploits this weekend, said he heard every kind of insult from the fans behind the wall, who didn’t hesitate to hurl beers at the Texas outfielders, much like the current midfielder Hodo in his jumping attempt to lock in a game 1 homer.
He retaliated with a massive two-run homer in the seventh inning to wake up the Texas bats, and to add a little salt to the ECU wound, he pointed to his tormentors in midfield as he rounded second base.
The Horns are in business now, but ECU won’t go under easily The program is desperate to make history against an Omaha blueblood. The team, which has attended the College World Series more than any other, has put all the pressure on the hosts.
“Texas was looking really good,” ECU trainer Cliff Godwin told reporters. “They are the best team we have played against all year. They struggled a lot.”
Texas Fight sounds about right, but the Horns aren’t out of the Carolina backwoods yet. You must find a way to contain a hot offense with the remains of a screen from a game 3 bullpen.
Long before the Horns got on the jet to Greenville, NC, it was clear to everyone who’s been following this season that they would need their top two starters – Pete Hansen and Lucas Gordon – to deliver quality starts so UT can take care of the business. Everything else felt like doom.
A day after Hansen was tagged for six carries in four innings, Gordon struggled early, found his groove and then fought again. He gave way to Marcus Olivarez after Bryson Worrell’s two-run double wiped out a lead in Texas. He also gave up five runs.
Neither starter made it out of the fifth inning, but the horns are still breathing. Let’s call it what it is: a team largely built around its offense. Somehow, the Horns are still in the tournament despite their two main weapons being less than stellar.
Pierce didn’t name a Sunday starter, but said “every pitcher” on staff is available.
The late Augie Garrido put it best: Omaha is compulsory in Texas. That’s an almost impossibly high bar for most programs, but it’s been met time and time again in these parts.
Sunday won’t be easy with what’s left of this pitching staff, but this offense will give the Horns a chance.
Omaha isn’t just mandatory.
It’s still within reach.