When Texas scores double-digit runs, it ends with a win. Entering Sunday, the Longhorns had 19 games with 10-plus runs scored, each ending with a victory.
Might as well end the season at Disch-Falk Field in front of 7,245 strong in similar fashion, right?
Despite a slow start and a bit of a scare, Texas (47-15) bounced back behind excellent plate discipline to trump South Florida (31-30) and head back to the College World Series for the first time since 2018.
“We’ve talked about it since Day 1, keeping our head down and just continuing to try to get better,” Texas coach David Pierce said into the early hours of Monday morning on Zoom.
Like any season finale, it had to come with a few twist and turns. Sunday was no different.
The Longhorns entering the second inning down 2-0 — their first deficit of the tournament. By the end time the Bulls returned to the plate, they were the underdogs after Texas scored four.
Trey Faltine whacked a double into right center field to make it 1-0. After that, the hit parade was on.
Tristan Stevens was from his normal fireball-gunslinger on the mound, but the rhythm return for most his remaining five innings. Timing played a big factor in his 11-0 win of Southern, spending just 32 minutes on the mound.
After the first inning, the right-hander needed nearly 10 minutes to retire the Bulls. The next inning? Try six pitches.
"I didn't have my stuff, to be honest with you. Whether it was sinker, change-up, slider, it wasn't my ace stuff," Stevens said. "When you have those kind of days, you pitch with heart, you don't pitch with what you've got."
USF's Billy Mohl couldn't leave ace Collin Sullivan on the mound after allowing four runs. His night was over after just 1 2/3 innings. The fifth-year senior was off on multiple throws outside the box, motivating the crowd to up the antic further.
Texas never looked back.
Faltine lit it up again with an RBI double in the third, plating a pair of Longhorns and improving the lead to four. For the night, the freshman shortstop would go 2-for-3 on the night with a team-high three RBIs while reaching base five times.
A seventh inning two-run homer from Cam Williams gave the Longhorns a commanding 11-4 lead. As he pumped up the fans upon his return to the dugout, he rounded second with horns up towards the sky.
Oh yeah, they could taste Omaha now.
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South Florida had only two fewer hits than the Longhorns on the night, but struggled to capitalize with runners in scoring position. Although they found a way to beat the all All-Big 12 pitcher, it came in waves, not consistency.
Stevens found trouble in the sixth inning after allowing a run off two doubles. Pierce could have allowed him to try to finish the frame, but instead chose to call upon freshman Cole Quintanilla.
He need five pitches to stop the bleeding in tracks and keep the score at 8-4.
Stevens finished the night allowing four earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three. Quintanilla's night was memorable as he threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings without allowing a hit.
The Bulls' Cinderella run comes to a close, but credit is due to Mohl's staff. Two weeks ago, USF was sitting below .500 in the AAC Tournament. Six games later, they leave Austin with the school's first super regional appearance plus champions of their conference.
Texas though was ready — primarily in the batter's box. The Bulls issued 12 walks and hit Faltine twice. The Longhorns also added 10 hits on the evening while leaving 11 runners on base.
With the surprise upset of No. 1 Arkansas to North Carolina State, the No. 2 Longhorns will be the highest seed at the College World Series this year. As Pierce says, they weren't perfect, but in the right moments, they made the right call.
For the past two weeks in Austin, perfect has been the name of the game. A 5-0 run and a 37th appearance in the CWS sure sounds perfect no matter how you say it.
"For the most part, they're not afraid of anything," Peirce said. "They're not afraid of the work. I've never had a team that works so hard for each other. It's incredible. So now we get an opportunity to go stay together for a little longer and compete.”
The Disch sent Texas off in style, chanting “Om-a-ha, Om-a-ha” as Aaron Nixon delivered the final strikeout. Now, the Longhorns will be placed in bracket two, where their next opponent has still yet to be decided in Starkville, Miss.
Center fielder Mike Antico said after the team's 12-2 victory over Fairfield that Texas wanted to prove they were the best in the country. Five games and 49 runs later, the makings of a national champion is just a few more games away.
"This team is never satisfied and we know what we're capable of," Stevens said. "This is just another pit stop on a great journey that hopefully this team can cap off with a national championship."
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