On Saturday, No. 2 Texas took the field in Omaha. One pitch decided a 4-3 loss to No. 7 Mississippi State, sending the Bulldogs to the championship.
On the mound for the Longhorns was redshirt junior Tristan Stevens, who last started in a 8-4 win over No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers.
Stevens had been consistent for the Longhorns all season. Usually performing as a Saturday starter, Stevens came into the elimination game with only three days of rest due to his performance in Tuesday’s game.
For MSU, it was pitcher Will Bednar. Bednar completely dominated during the first matchup between the two teams with 15 strikeouts.
The Longhorns' No. 2 didn’t play his best the first couple of innings, giving up numerous hits and showing his fatigue from the previous matchup.
"Tristan's my boy," Texas reliever Cole Quintanilla said. "Ever since we got to campus, we've been through everything together, the ups and the downs."
SEC player of the year Tanner Allen finally broke through for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the third inning, bringing in a run and making the score 2-1 Longhorns.
The damage for Stevens continued into the fifth and sixth innings, allowing multiple hits and runs which tied the game 3-3. This ultimately ended the night for Stevens, who allowed nine hits on 73 pitches and two strikeouts.
While Stevens didn’t quite impress with his performance, the Longhorns were very fortunate to be in a tied ball game.
Quintanilla (L 5-1) stepped into a tough position, with zero outs and runners on second and third. The redshirt sophomore performed exceptionally well under pressure, pitching two strikeouts and maintaining the tied score.
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Quintanilla continued showing composure in the seventh, rebounding well to close out another scoreless inning.
It wasn’t quite enough, however, when Quintanilla gave up a walk-off run in the ninth to end the Longhorns season. The sophomore finished with five strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work.
"You know, I just went out there and tried to leave it all out on the line for my brothers," Quintanilla said. "Just doing everything I can to keep us in the game and everything I had, just leave it out there."
Losing will sting for this Longhorns team, but they showed a lot of heart coming back from their original loss to the Bulldogs earlier in the tournament.
Looking ahead, Stevens, closer Aaron Nixon and Longhorns' ace Ty Madden will likely have the opportunity to take their game to the next level in the MLB. Madden is a projected top 10 pick in next month's draft.
Take out two bad innings and one could pencil him in as a consensus starter.
Along with key senior first baseman Zach Zubia leaving the program, it will be a bittersweet feeling for a Longhorns team that will need to replace key pieces this coming offseason.
"I think the future is bright for the younger guys that are coming up, especially like Tanner [Witt], Nixon, Lucas [Gordon], they are going to play a huge role for this team next year and years to come," Quintanilla said.
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