Cole Quintanilla made one mistake. It's one that happens to the best of the best.
A simple hit-by-pitch usually won't matter. The player takes his base and the game resumes play. After all, Quintanilla was on-point through 3.1 innings, what's the worst that could happen?
It's Omaha, though. Every pitch matters.
Three pitches later, the game was over. Brayland Skinner rounded third as Eric Kennedy just watched the ball roll. Tanner Leggett was Mississippi State's hero as the Bulldogs crowded the plate.
Quintanilla's hit-by-pitch on Kellum Clark was his only flaw in an otherwise-perfect performance — but it sends Texas (50-17) back to the Forty Acres empty-handed and a game shy of returning to the College World Series finale.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Quintanilla said after the 4-3 loss Saturday evening. "The season didn't start off how we wanted to, but I think we showed how tough we are."
Quintanilla (5-1) entered the sixth inning in a tie game. Tristan Stevens got the pitch he wanted on Bulldogs' (48-17) Logan Tanner, but a bounce landed it over Cam Williams' head for an RBI double to tie the game at 3-all.
He first walked Scotty Dubrule to load the bases. Great, a pitcher's nightmare has come to life.
In most situations, any young player might buckle under the pressure. Not Quintanilla. He instead had his own "welcome to the (college) show" moment.
A force-out at home from Williams saved one run. Quintanilla struck out the next two batters and screamed as he left the mound. Job complete, onto the next frame.
"When you get in that kind of jam, and he threw his pitches with conviction, I think you just watched another young person just grow up right there on the mound," Texas coach David Pierce said. "I mean, we've all seen his stuff. We've all seen some tremendous outings, but you just watched him grow up to basically feel like he can do pretty much anything on that mound if he just puts his mind to it."
Quintanilla battled through the next two innings, making sure the Bulldogs would remember his name. Seventh inning? Three up, three down. The eighth? Same result.
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Sure, Quintanilla is young. Heck, who knows what the future holds?
The present though proved Texas found a star as he headed to the ninth.
"I was more concerned about emptying the tank every inning and not how tired or how fresh I felt," Quintanilla said. "Just what I had and what I was going to give, and if it was 70 percent, I was going to give 100 percent of that 70 percent."
A 1-2 pitch to Clark just grazed the back of the batter’s foot. Campbell took first in the process and the rest was history. Texas leaves Omaha without a title and now prepares for next year.
"(Quintanilla) hung one up and I put a good swing on it," Leggett said. "Wasn't a bad pitch, though. It was a good pitch. I was just locked in."
In a sense, Quintanilla didn't lose, no matter what the scorecard says. One mistake won't define a career, but in must-win cases, it does define the outcome.
The defeat will sit with Texas until February of 2022 when the Longhorns return to the field. Quintanilla could elect to return for another season and become a full-time starter in the rotation.
If not, he already knows the drill.
Texas found a light in the dark Saturday evening as potentially the next great arm in Austin. Quintanilla left it out on the field as Mississippi State heads to the final.
An outcome no one wanted, but a performance no one will forget.
"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."
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