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Instant classic— Texas Longhorns baseball defeats Long Beach State 5-3 in NCAA regional thriller

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The ‘Horns are one win away from a Super Regional.

Brett Boswell after hitting one of his two solo shots of the night.
@TexasBaseball on Twitter

Texas Longhorns baseball defeated the Long Beach State Dirtbags Saturday night 5-3 in the NCAA regional winners bracket.

The Dirtbags will now play San Diego State in an elimination game on Sunday. The winner of that game must beat Texas twice to advance to the Super Regional, while Texas just needs one more win.

The Dirtbags struck in the first inning in peculiar fashion. With two outs and runners at the corners, Long Beach State executed a double steal.

Texas catcher Michael Cantu attempted to gun out the runner heading to second despite no one covering the bag. The ‘Horns ended up getting the runner at second out to end the inning, but not before the runner from third scored to make the score 1-0.

The Longhorns immediately responded in the top of the second with a Brett Boswell solo shot to the opposite field.

The tie would be short lived, however.

Long Beach State regained the lead in the with a solo home run of its own in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1.

What started as an unexpected offensive showdown quickly stagnated into a pitchers’ duel between two excellent starters in Texas’ Morgan Cooper and the Long Beach State’s Darren McCaughan.

Both were locked in until the top of the sixth when Texas loaded up the bases with two outs. McCaughan, however, was able to get out of the jam by getting the freshman Austin Todd to pop out to center.

Despite Texas not capitalizing in the sixth, it only took one swing in the seventh to knot the game up again at two.

Brett Boswell again ripped a solo home run — this time to left field — to get Texas back to even with the Dirtbags.

But it seemed like every time the Longhorns tied it up, the Dirtbags answered. In the bottom of the seventh, Long Beach State had runners on the corners with no outs. Morgan Cooper got a full count strikeout, but the Dirtbags attempted a double steal again on the play.

Michael Cantu had the runner on third base in no man’s land, but hit him with the throw, sending the ball astray and allowing him to score. Texas got out of the inning without further damage, but LBSU took a 3-2 lead.

Long Beach State sent Josh Advocate on to pitch in the top of the eighth. The reliable reliever started off well to strike out Patrick Mathis. He followed this by allowing the third Texas solo shot of the game — only this time it was to Zane Gurwitz.

The Longhorns ended up getting runners on second and third with two outs later in the inning, but a three pitch strikeout to Boswell ended the threat.

Long Beach State threatened in the bottom of the eighth. It started with a lead off single. The Dirtbags then attempted to lay a sac bunt. Despite the bunter seemingly intentionally hitting the ball it was called foul. The batter later executed the sacrifice with two strikes to put a runner on second.

That runner advanced to third on a ground out to David Hamilton. With two outs, Morgan Cooper got the Dirtbag batter to pop out on his 100th pitch of the night and evade trouble.

In the bottom of the ninth, Chase Shugart came on to pitch for the ‘Horns. He got a quick ground out to short, but then hit a batter in an 0-2 count. Shugart then struck out the next batter, but Cantu dropped the pitch to allow the runner to advance to second with two outs.

A pinch hitter for the Dirtbags then hit a ball extremely well, but Patrick Mathis made a diving catch to save the game. Seriously — this game was absolutely bonkers.

The ‘Horns went down 1-2-3 in the 10th to again give the Dirtbags a chance to win it on a walk off.

Shugart hit the first batter on the first pitch. A failed sac bunt gave the ‘Horns one out. Shugart then tried to pick off the runner at first, but the throw was wide. Boswell, however, saved the game by expertly throwing the runner out at third.

With two outs, Todd misplayed a hit in left field, and the Dirtbags sent the hitter to try for an inside the park home run. Ryan Reynolds barehanded the cut off and threw the runner out at home. No, I am not making this up.

The Longhorns and Dirtbags both went down 1-2-3 in the 11th as Ridgeway came on to pitch for the ‘Horns.

In the 12th, Ryan Reynolds worked a walk to get a lead off man on for the ‘Horns. Cantu then had a base knock to put runners on first and second.

Hamilton laid down a sac bunt that just barely got him (or did it?) to put runners on second and third with one out. Gurwitz, however, popped out to shallow outfield to eliminate the sac fly.

That didn’t matter, because Travis Jones responded with a two out base knock to give Texas the 5-3 edge.

In the bottom of the 12th, Ridgeway came back on to seal the deal. Ridgeway got the first batter to pop out, but then allowed a base hit to bring the tying run to the plate.

McCann then allowed a passed ball to eliminate the double play, as the runner advanced to second.

After a scary foul ball homer that nearly tied the game up, Ridgeway struck out the batter looking to give the ‘Horns two outs.

Ridgeway got the next batter on a grounder to second to end it, and give Texas the huge win.