Despite being one win away from a berth in the College World Series finale to face Vanderbilt, Texas' fantastic 2021 season came to a close Saturday evening in Omaha. The No. 2 Longhorns (50-17) lost to No. 7 Mississippi State (48-17) by a score of 4-3.
Even in the walk-off loss, Texas continued to make plays led by the talent of third-baseman Cam Williams.
After striking out three times off the arm of Will Bednar in last Sunday's matchup with the Bulldogs, Williams faced the steady-handed pitcher once again on Saturday night. As he walked up to the plate in the second inning with one RISP for Texas, the switch-hitter was ready for his big-time CWS moment.
Bednar caught Williams on the first strike, followed by foul ball to put the count at 0-2. The Hail State star had Williams right where he wanted him.
Or so he thought.
Bednar zipped a high-fastball into the top of the zone, tempting Williams to swing hard. He did exactly that, as the ball sailed into right field to score two runs for the Horns and put them up 2-0 early.
As he rounded the bases, the Odessa, Florida native raised his Horns to the air in celebration. Once he reached home, Williams passionately pointed to the "T" on his burnt orange helmet as he clapped it up with Ivan Melendez.
In the sixth inning, a Logan Tanner ground-ball popped up over the head of Williams at third base to tie the game at three a-piece. The third baseman wouldn't wait long to make his defensive presence felt after letting one get away.
Texas pitcher Cole Quintanilla took over on the mound in the sixth in relief for Tristan Stevens. After a walk by Quintanilla, the Longhorns found themselves in a bases-loaded jam with no outs.
Despite the circumstances, Williams got another chance as he sparked a defensive stop for Texas. MSU's Brad Cumbest grounded one to Williams at third, resulting in a dart to catcher Silas Ardoin at home plate to prevent the Bulldogs from taking the lead.
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The force-out at home was the first of the inning, as Texas eventually recovered from having the bases loaded to retiring the sides off the arm of Quintanilla.
The production of Williams' bat wasn't done yet. With the game tied 3-3 in the seventh, he popped a single into left-field to give Texas momentum in a critical moment of the game.
He also managed to steal second off of a wild pitch, but the Horns came up empty.
Texas' season ends in heartbreak, but Williams has a lot of baseball to look forward to. It's unclear at the moment if he will decide to enter the MLB draft or stay another year on the Forty Acres.
Williams finishes the 2021 season with a .291 batting average, 59 hits, 49 RBI and 11 home runs. He finished third amongst Longhorn hitters for both RBI and home runs. Williams also started in all 60 games he played in.
After a successful season, Texas will have to look towards a brighter future.
And perhaps, Williams is here and along for the ride?
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