Last weekend, David Pierce said he knew Augie Garrido’s presence was with his team. So as game 3 against Tennessee Tech unfolded, did Pierce have the same feeling he had during the regional?
“No doubt. I was rubbing Augie’s jersey in the 7th inning,” Pierce said after the game.
The result? The Longhorns are headed back to the College World Series.
An emotional 5-2 game 3 win over Tennessee Tech punched the Longhorns ticket to Omaha and solidified that the special 2018 season would end with Texas playing on the biggest stage.
As has been the theme for the majority of the season, Texas received huge performances from unlikely sources. Josh Sawyer said last week that the Longhorns are a team of misfits, but the team of misfits is now heading to the College World Series.
I will have some more content as the week progresses, but for now here are some thoughts and takeaways from the biggest win for Texas Baseball since 2014:
- As I was leaving the ballpark yesterday, I ran through the different pitching options Texas could turn to today. Kamron Fields, Matteo Bocchi, Nico O’Donnell and Bryce Elder all seemed like viable candidates, but I had a feeling Pierce would lean towards the hot hand and go with Bocchi. Pierce did just that and was rewarded in a huge way. Bocchi delivered 5 strong innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 3. His sinker appeared to have a lot more life than in his previous starts, and the Italian native made the best offense in the country uncomfortable for the majority of his time on the mound.
- “Well Matteo has thrown well in our extra period last week. He threw well in the regionals and I knew his fastball would play if he commanded. He threw enough sliders, actually they probably eliminated the sliders because he wasn’t throwing it for strikes enough, but he hit the location.”-Pierce on Bocchi
- Ryan Reynolds has struggled during the postseason, but it had to be a welcome sight for him to see left-hander Alex Hursey on the mound. Since he began switch hitting again, Reynolds has hit left-handers a lot better than right-handers. In the 2nd inning, Reynolds put Texas on the board with a 2-run double into the gap in left-center. Later in the game, he also singled against right-hander Ethan Roberts.
- DJ Petrinsky, who was moved up in the order to the 5-spot on Sunday, delivered a solo home run in the 3rd inning. Petrinsky has probably been the second best hitter in the postseason for Texas, and has served as a legitimate power threat.
- Matt Bragga jokingly said yesterday that they may walk Kody Clemens every time he came to the plate today. Well, Bragga may have wished he said that statement seriously. Clemens smashed his 3rd home run of the weekend in the 3rd inning, an opposite field solo shot. There is little doubt who the best hitter in the country is right now, and David Pierce even said so after the game.
- “This young man is the best hitter in college baseball when the game is on the line.”-David Pierce on Clemens
- Pierce admitted after the game that he did not know how Blair Henley would respond throwing in back-to-back days for the first time this season. Henley entered in the 6th in relief of Bocchi and walked both batters he faced. He was unable to locate his fastball, and Pierce had to make a change quickly.
- “It was risky, because Blair hasn’t gone back to back, even though he only threw like 39 pitches yesterday. And so, we had a little hiccup there and got the ball to Parker Joe and that’s where we needed it.”
- After Josh Sawyer faced two hitters in relief of Henley, Pierce opted to bring in Parker Joe Robinson, who may reliever Texas has at the moment. Robinson worked 2 ⅔ scoreless innings and continued to effectively get hitters out by using his unusual arm slot.
- “Always, I mean he doesn’t ever get to start clean innings. It’s usually bases loaded and nobody out. If he has one out we basically tell him, hey this is a luxury for you, this is easy. It happens. Kody can admit that, we talk about it on the mound. He’s just so cool. The thing is he isn’t trying to be anybody else, he does what he can. Great with location and he’s touching 90 with that slot right now. That’s something you don’t see enough as a hitter as far as day to day BP. You don’t see this enough and when you can command it to both sides it really makes a difference.”-Pierce on Parker Joe Robinson
- With Tennessee Tech making things interesting in the 9th inning, Pierce opted to bring in Nolan Kingham, who had thrown 95 pitches in his start on Saturday. Kingham responded by recording the final two outs for his third save of the season. David Pierce said yesterday that everyone would be available, and it proved to be true.
- Texas will kick off the College World Series on Sunday against either South Carolina or Arkansas, who play a game 3 later today. The CWS is formatted in 2 four-team double elimination brackets, with the winners from each bracket meeting for best-of-three series.