AUSTIN (KXAN) — With weather delays keeping other regional championship games on hold, the Texas Longhorns were one the first teams to qualify Sunday for the super regionals.
The Longhorns went a perfect 3-0 in the Coral Gables regional, topping No. 9 Miami 10-6 in the title game at Mark Light Field behind a 9-run third inning capped by a Jalin Flores grand slam.
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“We got behind early but did a great job continuing to play the game,” Longhorns head coach David Pierce said. “We weren’t our best offensively with some of the guys that have been playing well for us, but that’s why it’s called a team. We had three guys at the bottom of the lineup do a lot of us, and I’m proud of all of them.”
The Longhorns had seven of their eight total hits in the big frame. Jared Thomas got the scoring going with an RBI double, then Peyton Powell smacked a two-RBI single with two strikes on him to score Mitchell Daly and Thomas. Garret Guillemette followed with a double down the left field line to score Dylan Campbell and Powell to make the score 5-3, and then the giant blast came for the Longhorns.
Porter Brown and Eric Kennedy drew walks to load the bases, and on the first pitch he saw from Miami reliever Carlos Lequerica, Flores clobbered a hanging breaking ball over the center field fence. It sailed just to the left of the batter’s eye beyond the wall, a no-doubt shot that broke the game wide open.
“Honestly, I felt like I blacked out for a little bit,” Flores said. “I saw EK when I was rounding second, and I just got a pitch I could drive and did what I could to help the team win.”
Flores was hitting .177 with four home runs coming into the game, but there’s plenty of pop in his bat from the freshman from San Antonio Brandeis.
The Hurricanes scored all their runs on two 3-run home runs, one by shortstop Dom Pitelli in the second inning off of Texas starter Tanner Witt, and then Yohandy Morales sent one out off Charlie Hurley in the seventh.
Texas scored one run in the sixth inning after Brown was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Campbell extended his school record hitting streak to 38 games with a single in the third inning.
Witt went two innings in his fourth start of the season with a pair of strikeouts, but Hurley came in and was big for the Longhorns in relief. He allowed the Morales homer, but other than that, he was great. He struck out two with a walk and allowed four hits in 4.1 innings, inducing five groundouts and five flyouts in 74 pitches.
Zane Morehouse worked the final 2.2 innings on the mound and was terrific. He fanned seven with one walk and allowed just one hit to shut the door on the No. 9 national seed and send the Longhorns to the program’s 13th super regional since the NCAA went to the format in 1999.
Pierce said Morehouse’s struggles earlier this season came because of an arm slot issue, and once he was able to get on top of his breaking ball and get vertical movement on it, it worked better with his mid-90s heater to attack hitters.
Jack O’Dowd has a pair of hits for the Longhorns and every hitter in the Texas lineup scored at least once.
Lebarron Johnson Jr., who threw a 130-pitch complete game to beat Miami on Saturday, was named the tournament MVP. Guillemette, Thomas, Campbell and Flores were also named to the all-tournament team.
Stanford and Texas A&M face off Sunday night to see who will meet the Longhorns in the super-regional round. If the Aggies win, they’ll advance and the college baseball world will get two bitter rivals going at each other for the spot in the Men’s College World Series. If the Cardinal win, the teams will have to play again Monday to decide who moves on.
If Texas A&M seals the deal, there’s a chance the super regional would be in Austin since nationally-seeded Stanford would be eliminated. If Stanford emerges, then the Longhorns would be West Coast-bound for Palo Alto and Sunken Diamond.