Horns Punch a Ticket to Omaha With 5-2 Win Over Tennessee Tech

The heat was on the Horns on Monday afternoon; win the rubber match against Tennessee Tech and head to Omaha for the College Baseball World Series, or lose, ending a magical season. The temperature at UFCU Disch-Falk Field rose to the mid-90s by the second inning, but by then, the Texas was up two runs, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

A stiff breeze cut through the sweltering June sun, lifting two doubles out to left center in the second inning, one each by Hibbeler and Reynolds.

TTU threatened in the third, dinking and dunking runners over to second and third with two outs, but the Disch erupted when starting pitcher Matteo Bocchi slammed the Golden Eagles’ window shut with an emphatic strikeout.

The wind assisted Kody Clemens’ opposite-field blast in the bottom of the third to put Texas up 3-0. Petrinsky took advantage an knocked another solo shot over the left-field wall two batters later. TTU answered in the top of the fourth, plating one on a Trevor Putzig single.

Texas used three pitchers in the sixth. Blair Henley and Josh Sawyer lasted only 11 pitches apiece, and only picked up one out between them. Parker Joe Robinson came in to finish the job, and lasted through the eight. He was pulled after giving up a single to the leadoff batter in the top of the ninth.

Head Coach David Pierce used Andy McGuire for a few batters, ultimately relying on ace starter Nolan Kingham to close out the game. With two runners on, TTU’s John Ham hit a long fly ball that might’ve tied up the game if the wind was feeling a bit more generous. After surrendering a two-out walk, Horns fans were on high alert with the bases loaded. A few nice pitches and Texas would be headed to Omaha; one missed spot could mean heartbreak. With a 1-2 count, Kingham got Kaleiwahea to ground out to shortstop David Hamilton to end the game.

All 7,370 Texas diehards playing hooky from work on a Monday—minus a couple dozen enthusiastic Golden Eagles fans parked on the first base line—screamed in relief when the last out was recorded. For the first time since 2014—and the NCAA record 36th time in school history—Texas is headed to the College Baseball World Series.

“They brought exactly what we thought they would bring,” Tennessee Tech Head Coach Matt Bragga said after the game. “Matter of fact, that’s the best pitching staff we’ve faced all year.”

Pierce stressed how proud he is of his team, the first one he’ll bring to Omaha as a head coach.

“It feels awesome. It really does,” Pierce said. “I’m so proud of our team. We’re not always pretty—a lot of times we’re ugly. We just figure out ways to keep playing.”

Kody Clemens will make his first appearance in Omaha, and will be the third member of his family to play in a College Baseball World Series, joining brother Kacy (2014) and father Roger (1983). Clemens said his father told him that winning the national title in Omaha was one of the greatest moments of his life.

“I’m super excited,” Clemens said. “We have unfinished business.”

Photo courtesy of UT Athletics.

 
 
 

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