After overcoming a 7-2 deficit, the No. 9 seed Texas Longhorns broke an 8-8 tie in the ninth inning with a walk-off hit by right fielder Dylan Campbell to win the second game of the Greenville Super Regional 9-8 on Saturday at Clark-LeClair Field to set up a decisive game three on Sunday.
“I just knew that it was going to be like a lot of people on their feet, a lot of noise and stuff,” Campbell said. “It’s kind of like, you’ve got to want to be in that situation. I wanted it and I was ready for it. After each pitch, just kind of slowing my heart rate down and having to come through after that.”
Campbell, center fielder Douglas Hodo III, and left fielder Eric Kennedy all had three hits for the Longhorns, including the solo home run by Campbell to go ahead in the eighth inning and the two-run home run by Hodo that sparked the rally in the seventh inning. Third baseman Skyler Messinger added a three-run shot in the eighth to tie the game, continuing his hot postseason hitting.
On the mound, Texas once again received a disappointing start, this time from left-hander Lucas Gordon, who started losing his command in the fourth inning and wasn’t able to regain it in the fifth as the Longhorns allowed five runs to the Pirates. For the second straight game, right-hander Marcus Olivarez wasn’t able to limit the damage, allowing a three-run home run to the first hitter he faced.
But right-hander Andre Duplantier pitched well enough to allow Texas the opportunity to come back, working 2.2 innings and allowing one run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Duplantier did allow the game-tying home run in the ninth inning, but still picked up the win after his teammates picked him up.
“Dre was good,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “I’m really proud of Dre for stepping up. I know he gave up solo, but him stepping up and giving us two-and-two-thirds is big for us and big for Dre.”
With the season on the line, it was the most impressive comeback this season for a Longhorns team that hasn’t been able to meet its lofty preseason expectations.
“There’s a lot of fight in this team and this team has proven it from the day we started up until right now that they’re just not going to give in, they’re not just going to go away,” Pierce said. “It’s a really good team we’re playing, but just so proud of our team, just how we just showed so much grit and how we fought back and pieced the bullpen together. Looking forward to Game 3, for sure.”
Pierce did not name a Sunday starter for Texas, but noted that every pitcher will be available, including Friday starter Pete Hansen, who threw 88 pitches in a disappointing performance. The third starter in the Austin Regional was right-hander Travis Stehle, who pitched three scoreless innings against Air Force and has not pitched yet in Greenville.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, the Pirates aren’t in much better shape. Left-hander Jake Kuchmaner started the third game in the Greenville Regional last week, but didn’t make it out of the first inning, so Sunday will be a bullpen day for East Carolina, too.
The Pirates are looking for their first trip to Omaha, while the Longhorns haven’t won a road super regional since beating the Rebels in Oxford on the way to the 2005 national championship.
[1:05 p.m. Central update]: Right-hander Tristan Stevens (6-6, 5.16 ERA) will start for Texas for the first time since April 30 after getting only one out in two appearances so far in the Greenville Super Regional. East Carolina will send right-hander Danny Beal (5-1, 4.03 ERA) to the mound. Beal pitched 4.0 scoreless innings against Coppin State in the Greenville Regional, allowing only one hit and striking out six, his longest outing of the season.
[2:38 p.m. Central update]: A little less than a half hour from scheduled first pitch, there’s already a lightning delay in Greenville:
And we’re in a lightning delay here in Greenville, a half hour from the scheduled start time. Looking at the forecast, wouldn’t surprise me if we’re sitting around until 8 or 9 mph tonight...— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 12, 2022
Rain is forecast in the area starting around 4:30 p.m. Central and could continue for several hours.
[3:28 p.m. Central update]: We have a start time barring any more lightning in the area:
[4:28 p.m. Central update]: Texas jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a three-run home run by first baseman Ivan Melendez and an RBI single by third baseman Skyler Messinger before more lightning in the area forced a second weather delay.
[8:51 p.m. Central update]: There’s finally a start time:
#PirateNation - game will be aired on ESPNU beginning at 10:13 pm.— ECU Baseball (@ECUBaseball) June 13, 2022
So make that 9:13 p.m. Central.
How to Watch:
Time: Sunday at 3 p.m. Central
TV: ESPN2/ESPNEWS until completion of UNC-Arkansas
Radio: 104.9 FM The Horn/1260 AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 90 degrees, south-southwest wind eight miles per hour, 18-percent chance of thunderstorms by 4 p.m. Central