Zach Zubia has been here before. In fact, he's one of two Texas players to already grace TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha as a member of the Longhorns 2018 roster.
As the old guy in the a room full of up and comers, one would expect his bat to be the loudest on the club. With bases loaded in a the ninth inning into the early hours of Friday morning, he was sitting at 0-for-10 at the plate.
One swing on a full count later, Zubia was clapping into the night sky at second base. His hit might have been stayed in the park, but it was the one that keeps Texas alive for a rematch against Mississippi State Friday evening.
“I just gotta trust myself,” Zubia said following the 6-2 victory over Virginia. “I think that's something that is really important to me. It's important to every hitter, is just trusting yourself, trusting your work. And I think I showed that in my last at-bat."
Zubia's three-run double allowed Texas (49-16) to gain a cushion entering the final frame over the Cavaliers. Holding a 3-2 lead, the Longhorns' first baseman cranked a perfect pitch deep to left center field, giving momutem to burnt orange.
And this was after a 3-hour, 46 minute rain delay where both teams tried to keep loose as thunder shook over their heads.
A week prior, Zubia was named the Austin Super Regionals MVP for his work at the plate. He'd go 6-of-23 overall with two extra base hits and tallying eight RBIs. Against Arizona State, his two-run home run got the bats alive to hold off the Sun Devils.
Throughout Omaha, Zubia has been inconsistent swinging. In 13 total appearances, he's reached base three times, who coming off walks. Zubia also has played victim to strikeout, being sent packing five times.
Then again, one swing can change all that in an instant, right?
“Obviously the first three (at-bats) were not the results that any of us wanted," Zubia said. "But just still grinding away and just keeping your head down and taking every at-bat new and you're going to come up and put up a good swing and be big for your team. So that was the whole mindset for me the whole day.”
Zubia played the hero, but he wasn't the only Longhorns star that found his groove. Designated hitter Ivan Melendez, who entered 5-of-24 in the NCAA tournament, finally showed his consistent swing was back in action.
A double in the second allowed Douglas Hodo III to easily plate him with an RBI single. In the eighth tied at two, Melendez delivered once more, this time driving a line drive up the middle and plating Mike Antico from second.
Just before his bat, Texas manager David Pierce whispered something to Melendez. The message? Take it slow.
"He just came up to me told me he wanted me to slow the game down, slow my heart rate down, and tell me how great a hitter I am before I got in the box," Melendez said.
The Longhorns stay another night in Omaha, Neb. for a rematch against Mississippi State. Deja Vu all over again? One could say so.
Texas will likely be trusting ace Ty Madden to go once more. The Bulldogs have Will Bednar on four days rest. The last time these two teams met, they combined for a College World Series record of 32 total strikeouts — 21 of which came by the Longhorns.
Zubia believes momentum can go a long way. As Texas remains hot in a must win game, the star slugger will need to be as well.
After all, Texas must win twice against the Bulldogs if they hope to win their first national title since 2005.
"We're doing some great things on offense. Doing some great things on defense," Zubia said. "And we've just got to continue to use that and just keep on focusing and just keep on with the same mentality and same approach."
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