Texas beats Houston 4-0 to advance to CWS
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — C.J Hinojosa drove in two runs and Parker French pitched six scoreless innings as Texas beat Houston 4-0 Saturday to win an NCAA super regional and advance to the College World Series.
Texas (43-19) is headed to Omaha for the 35th time, more than any other school, after missing the NCAA tournament altogether the previous two years. The Longhorns’ last trip to the CWS was in 2011.
The Longhorns will face the winner of the super regional between Oklahoma State and California-Irvine, which the Anteaters lead 1-0. The first game in Omaha would be on June 14.
Texas coach Augie Garrido figured he had enough talent to restore the program, but wasn’t sure if they’d reach the CWS.
“I knew we could,” Garrido said. “But I didn’t know that we would be able to make the sacrifices that it takes to be selfless and to really committing their heart and their soul.”
Texas has won the World Series six times, including twice under Garrido — most recently in 2005.
Still, the Longhorns needed some redemption for their program.
The 75-year-old Garrido has won 1,917 games, more than any collegiate baseball coach, in 46 seasons — the last 18 at Texas.
However, Texas did not receive a bid to the tournament the past two seasons, the first time the Longhorns had been left out since 1997 and 1998 — Garrido’s first two seasons as coach. They finished last in the Big 12 in 2013, failing to qualify even for the league’s tournament.
Longhorns center fielder Mark Payton and Nathan Thornhill — the winning pitcher in Friday’s series opener — said they returned for their senior seasons to help the team instead of signing professional contracts.
Payton was selected in the 16th round of the MLB draft by Cleveland last year and Thornhill was taken by Houston in the 24th round. Both elevated their status this season as the New York Yankees picked Payton in the seventh round, and Thornhill went to Philadelphia in the 13th.
After winning Game 1, Thornhill said, “This is where this program belongs.”
On Saturday, Payton had a single and two walks to extend his streak of reaching base to 101 games.
French (6-5) allowed five hits and walked two. He did not strike out anybody, struggling at times with long pitch counts.
“I wasn’t going to let these guys down today,” French said. “It was just pure will power, pitching for my teammates.”
Josh Vidales had three singles for Houston (48-18), giving him six hits in the super regional. But Houston left 14 runners on base Saturday.
“Our team played today like we played all year — they never stopped,” Houston coach Todd Whitting said. “We just couldn’t get that big hit to get us jump-started.”
Texas scored four times in the fourth inning against Houston starter Aaron Garza (9-5). Hinojosa drove in two with a single to right-center, Collin Shaw had a sacrifice fly, and Kacy Clemens added an RBI single.
Houston (48-18) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Frankie Ratcliff grounded to first, and Clemens threw home for a force out. Michael Pyeatt followed with a grounder to second.
Texas had its share of tough times during the season. The Longhorns lost three straight Big 12 series in April and May — seven of nine games. Garrido said that helped them.
“You can’t go to another level without some adversity,” Garrido said. “You think you’re good enough, no matter what the coaches tell you, because you are winning all the time. When you get stomped and knocked down, you know the old saying: it isn’t what happens when you get knocked down. What do you do after you get back up?”