Texas Longhorns baseball fell (39-23) to the Long Beach State Dirtbags (40-18-1) 4-3 in a frustrating and controversial NCAA regional championship game.
The two teams will now meet again on Monday night at 10 pm CST in a winner take all game with the winner advancing to the Super Regionals (likely as a host).
Just like last night, Long Beach State broke open the scoring first. In the top of the second inning with one out and the bases loaded, the Dirtbags got an RBI groundout when Texas couldn’t turn two on a grounder to short.
Texas starter Kyle Johnston became locked in after a volatile start. However, the Dirtbags added another run in the top of the fifth on an RBI single.
Dirtbags pitcher Tyler Radcliffe, despite not starting a single game this year, finally began to lose his dominance in the middle innings. The Longhorns struck back in the bottom of the fifth when Texas started to read Radcliffe’s change up and slow fastball better.
The rally started with a one out Brett Boswell double. Ryan Reynolds was then hit by a pitch with two strikes. Next, David Hamilton attempted to lay down a bunt, but popped it up.
The spirit of Augie ball, however, lived on as the bunted ball fell to the ground and Hamilton reached first to load the bases.
Michael Cantu then hit a hard grounder up the middle that could’ve ended the inning, but instead bounced of the Dirtbag short stop’s chest. The error scored one to make the score 2-1 Long Beach State.
After a Patrick Mathis controversial (terrible) called third strike, Zane Gurwitz then ripped a two out single to score Reynolds. Cantu looked to have also easily scored, but the homeplate umpire remarkably called him out to end the inning.
Cantu was safe at home. He touched the plate on the slide. pic.twitter.com/berNgGIRht— Joey WA ⚾️ (@joeywa_44) June 5, 2017
Still, Texas was able to knot the score at two in the inning. But not for long.
The Dirtbags responded in the top of the sixth and scored again on an RBI single.
The Longhorns wouldn’t lie down — well, they would lay down bunts, but they wouldn’t give up. In the bottom of the sixth, Texas began the inning with a full count Travis Jones walk. Kacy Clemens then smashed a single to put runners on first and second.
Austin Todd then layed down a nice sac bunt to move runners to second and third. Boswell got the job done again with an RBI ground out to tie the game back up at three.
Blair Henley came on to pitch in the eighth inning. He struck out the first batter, but Cantu let the ball go to the back stop to put the batter on first. The runner then stole second during the next at bat. Henley got a groundout to get the first man down, but not before the runner advanced to third.
Henley got a key grounder to Ryan Reynolds to give the ‘Horns two outs without the runner from third scoring. However, the Dirtbags capitalized by knocking an RBI single to bring the score to 4-3.
And that was it. Though Henley finished the game strong to give the ‘Horns a chance, Texas couldn’t do anything with its last six outs. Cantu struck out to end the game and the ‘Horns fell 4-3.
I would just like to add that while the ‘Horns shot themselves in the foot several times, the home plate ump’s strike zone was atrocious all night. His inconsistencies cost the ‘Horns several times, as he would frequently deem a ball well outside a strike with Texas at the plate.
Game plan for tomorrow:— Burnt Orange Nation (@BON_SBNation) June 5, 2017
1. Start Nick Kennedy
2. Put in McCann over Cantu
3. Hit dingers.
Now if you don’t mind, I’ve gotta head to bed. I’ve got work tomorrow morning.