By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas is altering the timeworn baseball axiom – good pitching stops good hitting – with … great pitching stops all hitting.
The Longhorns won their third consecutive elimination game at the College World Series as senior Nathan Thornhill was dominant in a 4-0 victory over Vanderbilt Friday afternoon. In three must-win games, UT pitching has allowed one run.
Texas will face the Commodores (48-20) again on Saturday. The winner advances to the best-of-three Championship Series that starts Monday.
In four starts in the NCAA Tournament, Thornhill has allowed five runs, struck out 19 and issued six walks in 29.1 innings. The right hander threw 131 pitches in eight innings, allowing six hits, striking out five and walking one.
The Longhorns (46-20) took advantage of Vandy starter Tyler Ferguson’s wildness to score two runs in the first and capitalized on misplays by the Commodores to add two more in the second.
Brooks Marlow was hit by the first pitch from Ferguson. Ben Johnson walked on four pitches and Mark Payton was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
After a strikeout, C.J. Hinojosa hit a shot up the middle that might have resulted in an inning-ending double play. However, the ball hit the umpire. By rule, the ball was dead, Hinojosa was safe and the runners moved up a base. Madison Carter’s walk drove in another run to give UT a 2-0 lead.
Zane Gurwitz led off the second with a triple on a liner that left fielder Bryan Reynolds slipped trying to pursue. Brooks Marlow followed with a hard shot that right fielder Rhett Wiseman dove and missed, resulting in another triple. Marlow scored on Payton’s drag bunt toward first; Payton was safe when the Vandy pitcher dropped the ball trying to tag Payton.
* Senior right hander Nathan Thornhill has taken over as the No. 1 starter with the absence of Dillon Peters. In eight innings against Thornhill, Vanderbill never got a runner past second base.
* The No. 1 and No. 9 hitters were solid for Texas. Leadoff hitter Brooks Marlow was on base four times, scored twice and tripled. No. 9 hitter Zane Gurwitz was 2-for-4 with a triple.
Numbers to know
* Texas has not allowed a runner past second base in the last 18 innings.
* Texas is the first team to record back-to-back shutouts in the CWS since Oregon State in 2006 and the Longhorns have blanked their opponent in 33 of 35 innings.
* There have been seven triples in this CWS; last year there was one.
* Texas has 10 shutouts in CWS history. That’s tied with Arizona State for the most ever.
* Texas has won three consecutive CWS elimination games for the first time since 1981.
* The Longhorns are just the sixth team in CWS history to stay alive despite averaging two or fewer runs in its first three games; the other five all reached the championship game.
* In 10 NCAA games, Texas has 18 extra-base hits (13 doubles, two triples and three home runs); its opponents have five extra-base hits (four doubles and a triple).
* Texas reliever worked a scoreless ninth inning. In five NCAA Tournament appearances he pitched 9.2 innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts.
Texas coach Augie Garrido on senior right hander Nathan Thornhill: “He doesn't lead by telling other people what to do. He leads by doing it himself. He leads by example. He has a very fine skill set. He was a quarterback in high school, he's used to leadership, and he's committed. He's committed to the University, he's committed to the baseball program.
Garrido on how the team bounced back from losing seven-of-nine games in late April: “I think the bitter defeats that we went through in our highly competitive league helped them realize that we had to elevate the execution of our game both offensively and defensively to get to where we wanted to go. We weren't good enough yet, and we started trying to get better whether we won a game or lost a game. Then they took over the ownership of the team. They are motivating and inspiring each other.”
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin on facing Texas Saturday: “It's another chance to play another baseball game. We're in great shape. I pretty much think that Carson (Fulmer, 7-1 with a 1.88 ERA) will throw (Saturday), but we're in good shape, got a lot of arms past him, and there's a lot of kids that are wanting to pitch.”
Texas and Vanderbilt will play against Saturday at either 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. The winner advances to the best-of-three Championship Series while the loser is eliminated.