Ty Madden said Saturday night that Texas felt good. Two wins under its belt and one left to claim the Austin Regional, the Longhorns ace could feel his team starting to click.
"This team's got a lot of confidence right now," Madden said. "We're ready to roll."
If Sunday was a preview of what the super regionals will look like, Texas might be setting records next weekend.
Following a slow start against Arizona State, Texas (44-15) plated 10 runs in eight innings to scorch the Sun Devils. Against Fairfield, they need three innings and four pitchers to duplicate that success in a 12-2 finish.
"Hitting's contagious, you can see it clearly," UT outfielder Mike Antico said. "Obviously we didn't have them in OKC, but we can home and we got to work and it showed up this weekend."
The Stags (39-5) couldn't risk watching Jack Erbeck end the game within the first frame. With two outs and a runner on second, Erbeck walked three straight Texas bats, leading to a run by Antico.
Erbeck (0-1) lasted 27 pitches, eight of which were for strikes, before the Stags went to the pen. Things didn't improve for Jason Hebner with the ball in his hand.
An error from Fairfield's Sean Cullen made it 2-0. A single from Zach Zubia plated Antico for a second time. Caleb Williams added two more runs on a single to centerfield.
Just like all weekend, the bats were alive and well. So was the plate discipline.
Texas walked eight times in the first three innings, with 10 batters total reaching base thanks to being hit by the pitch. Bases were loaded once more and Douglas Hodo didn't hold back with a bases-clearing triple.
"It's not what Fairfield wanted to see," Texas coach David Pierce said of the Longhorns' discipline. "They needed us to be aggressive, put some balls in play and build some confidence in their depleted bullpen."
Pete Hansen's act would be the most important of the series. With Tristian Stevens zipping fastballs at a record pace and Madden connecting when the lights were at their brightest, why not go for the triple crown?
Hansen (9-1) retired the first eight before back-to-back doubles plated a run. Trusting the off-speed, the southpaw struck out a pair of Stags, leaving a runner stranded in scoring position.
Pierce called Hansen's outing dominating, believing his pitches were precise and on-point when the Longhorns needed it most. Pitchers trust the fastball, but Hansen delivered the slider to work out of the jam.
"His slider was not just a good slider, it was a plus slider," Pierce said. "Fastball command was there.
"Just watching his confidence as such a young pitcher, he's really very, very young still and for him to be able to go out there and calm his nerves, huge crowd and just go compete was fun."
As Texas went to the pen, Hansen was greeted by an eruption of applause from over 6,800 of the Longhorn faithful. He earned it with a runner on second. Sure, he allowed six hits, including three for extra bases.
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Hansen also struck out a season-high 13 in 6 2/3 of work. Of the 91 pitches, 65 were for strikes. He also didn't give up a walk.
The offense gave Hansen a cushion to start. Hansen responded by letting the offense ease back late.
"That was by far the coolest experience I've been a part of," Hansen said. "Not just the walking off, but to see the Disch packed, it was electric yesterday and I was very excited to see it today and pitch in it."
Texas' double-digit runs marked the 20th time this season Pierce's club has surpassed the accomplishment — winning every match along the way. Their nine hits were enough to help them improve to 30-5 at The Disch entering next weekend.
The Longhorns tallied 35 total hits in three days. Combined, their opponents recorded just 16.
Antico recalled the Big 12 Championship last weekend in which Texas recorded scored 12 runs over four-game. Knowing their rankings dwindled because of the loss to Oklahoma State, there was fire to live up to the No. 2 seed.
No. 15 Florida was eliminated in two games. No. 6 TCU fell to Oregon State Sunday morning. No. 16 Louisiana Tech fell to NC State in Ruston No. 4 Vanderbilt needed extras to win the Nashville Regional.
Did Texas “Defend the Disch” and the No. 2 status enough?
"This team has a ton of confidence and has all year really," Pierce said. "We've had some hiccups but we've had a ton of confidence all year and we've had the ability to bounce back."
To make it to Omaha, a team must win at each stage of the field. Texas scored 33 runs in three days offensively.
Five runs were allowed while 33 batters headed back to the dugout on strikeouts
The Horns are rolling and moving. Best of all? Who's to say this is their best ball with one series standing in their way for a return to TD Ameritrade Park?
"We're not letting up," Hansen said. "I think we all knew that we were the favorite to win the regional but we were going to earn it. We were going to go to work and really show the country we deserve to win that regional. I think we did a really good job at that."
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