Oklahoma State and Texas opened the Big 12’s historic NCAA Baseball Championship Super Regional slate on Friday. The Longhorns moved one game closer to Omaha with a 4-2 victory over Houston in Austin, while Oklahoma State nearly pulled off a comeback over UC Irvine in Stillwater before falling 8-4 to the Anteaters.
TCU and Texas Tech will join in on the action on Saturday with series openers against Pepperdine and College of Charleston, respectively.
UT can clinch one of the eight College World Series spots with a win on Saturday.
The Big 12 is 14-5 in NCAA postseason action and advanced eighty percent of its 2014 postseason participants to Super Regionals (4-of-5 teams).
Friday’s Results (June 6)
No. 9 Texas 4, No. 5 Houston 2
Texas struck for four runs in the first five innings, while receiving yet another excellent outing from pitcher Nathan Thornhill, en route to a 4-2 victory over Houston in game one of the Austin Super Regional on Friday.
UT center fielder Mark Payton got the scoring started with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, and the offense added runs in the fourth and fifth innings to give Texas a 4-0 advantage.
Payton collected two more hits on the day, and extended his streak of reaching base to an even 100 games. Catcher Tres Barrera added the other RBI of the game for Texas with a two-out single up the middle in the fifth inning. Shortstop C.J Hinojosa recorded two hits, and designated hitter Madison Carter hit a double that extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
The four runs the offense provided were enough for Thornhill, who threw seven strong frames, surrendering just seven singles and a walk, while striking out three Cougars. John Curtiss came on in place of Thornhill in the top of the eighth inning and went on to retire six of the seven batters he faced en route to earning his ninth save of the season.
No. 14 UC Irvine 8, No. 3 Oklahoma State 4
UC-Irvine, one of the last at-large teams selected to the 64-team bracket, continued its unlikely post-season push. The Anteaters, who advanced by knocking off the nation’s No. 1 seed (Oregon State) used its death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts approach to stun Oklahoma State, 8-4, Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The Cowboys showed life in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Tanner Krietemeier’s 3-run homer and getting the tying run to the plate with one out.
Oklahoma State was hosting its first Super Regional. The Cowboys were generous and UC Irvine was more than willing to accept two errors, a balk, a passed ball, two hit batters and back-to-back run-scoring wild pitches (one while attempting to intentionally walk the hitter). Most of that charity helped fuel six runs in the middle three innings.
The Cowboys, who hit .355 and scored 27 runs in their three regional victories, were baffled and befuddled by UC Irvine starter Elliot Surrey. A bespectacled sophomore lefty from the John Tudor school of slop throwing, Surrey got the start because ace Andrew Morales started two games in the Corvallis Regional.
Surrey went seven innings, allowing five hits (only two through the first five innings) and one run. Lefty reliever Evan Manarino used an approach similar to Surrey’s and was clutch with two innings of work to earn his first save.
Oklahoma State’s Jon Perrin, the team’s most reliable starter over the last month, worked a one-two-three first. He struggled through the next four, allowing five runs and needing a sparkling defensive play by right-fielder Conor Costello to end a first-and-third threat in the second.
The Anteaters, like the critters their namesake consumes, populate and move around the bases in maddening and ruinous fashion. A fine example came in the top of the fourth.
A leadoff single was followed by a sacrifice, a hit batter (on an 0-2 count), a passed ball and a wild pitch and put runners on second and third. With two outs number eight hitter Adam Alcantara beat out an infield hit. Cowboys second baseman ranged to his right and tried to throw out Alcantara but he was safe and both runners scored.
UC Irvine took a 6-1 lead in the top of the sixth with a perfectly executed one-out squeeze bunt … with the bases loaded. With two outs and runners at the corners in the eighth, a double steal produced another run on catcher Bryan Case’s ill-advised throw to second.
Saturday’s Schedule (June 7)
No. 16 College of Charleston at No. 10 Texas Tech [ESPNU] - Noon
No. 5 Houston at No. 9 Texas [ESPN] - 1:00 p.m.
No. 11 Pepperdine at No. 3 TCU [ESPNU] - 3:00 p.m.
No. 14 UC Irvine at No. 3 Oklahoma State [ESPNU] - 9:00 p.m.