A season for the No. 9 seed Texas Longhorns that started with promise and high expectations ended in dispiriting fashion on Sunday at the College World Series in a 10-2 loss to the No. 5 seed Texas A&M Aggies at Charles Schwab Field.
The quick departure from Omaha ranks as one of the most disappointing appearances at the College World Series for the Longhorns — Texas was one of the favorites after winning the Greenville Super Regional, but didn’t receive strong enough starting pitching and only managed one extra-base hit in two games.
Head coach David Pierce’s team had plenty of opportunities, including taking an early 2-0 lead, but stranded 12 baserunners by going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. First baseman Ivan Melendez and second baseman/right fielder Murphy Stehly combined to go 0-for-9 with four strikeouts. Melendez and left fielder Eric Kennedy both stranded three runners each and third baseman Skyler Messinger left four on base.
Texas had a chance to put up a crooked number in the first inning when center fielder Douglas Hodo III drew a full-count walk and left fielder Eric Kennedy singled through the left side. But first baseman Ivan Melendez struck out on a 2-2 pitch and second baseman Murphy Stehly popped out to first base. The opportunity wasn’t entirely wasted, however, as designated hitter Austin Todd singled to left field to bring home Hodo.
In the second, the Longhorns added another run when right fielder Dylan Campbell reached on an error by the third baseman, stole second, and scored on a double down the left-field line by Hodo.
Texas A&M bounced back in the bottom of the second despite a base-running error following a leadoff double that resulted in an out at third on a ground ball to shortstop. A full-count walk preceded a double off the left-field wall that scored one run and a full-count bloop single to left field scored another to tie the game at 2-2. In an eight-pitch at bat, Gordon found his fastball command, throwing a big strike on the inside part of the plate for the punchout. Gordon got ahead against third baseman Trevor Werner, but couldn’t put him away, eventually giving up a two-run single to left field on a solid pitch and then departing after throwing 43 pitches in the second inning.
Right-hander Jared Southard entered the game for Gordon and got a strikeout to end the inning, but the damage was done as A&M chased the Texas starter and took a 4-2 lead. For the Longhorns, the biggest issue was Gordon’s worst outing this season — a season-low in innings pitched (1.2) and tied for a season-high in runs (four).
The Aggies added another run in the third after a walk and a rare error by the Longhorns defense. On a ground ball to third, third baseman Skyler Messinger’s throw to first brought Melendez off the bag and he wasn’t able to secure the catch when he took his eye off the ball, then kicked it into the dugout, resulting in the runner at third being awarded home.
In the fourth, Texas missed a major opportunity to cut into the lead when catcher Silas Ardoin reached second on an error by the Texas A&M center fielder and right fielder Dylan Campbell drew a walk. But shortstop Trey Faltine hit a flyout to right field, Hodo popped out to the shortstop, and Kennedy lined out to center.
A leadoff double and a sacrifice bunt put Southard under pressure in the bottom of the frame. Southard nearly got out of the inning after a strikeout, but couldn’t put away second baseman Jack Moss, who lined a 2-2 pitch into right field to make it 6-2 and end Southard’s appearance as right-hander Andre Duplantier entered the game. Duplantier walked the first batter he faced before ending the inning with a strikeout.
Duplantier lasted until the fifth inning, when he gave up two singles to put runners on first and third with no outs as left-hander Luke Harrison entered the game. Harrison didn’t have much more success, giving up a bloop single into short right field that was misplayed by Stehly and then walking home a run. A double play recorded the first two outs in exchange for a run and a groundout to second ended the frame.
A single by Ardoin and a bunt single by Campbell in the sixth chased Texas A&M right-hander Micah Dallas after 5.0 strong innings of work in favor of left-hander Jacob Palisch, who struck out Faltine swinging to begin his outing, struck out Hodo looking, walked the bases loaded on a 3-2 pitch to pinch hitter Mitchell Daly, and then struck out Melendez looking on a 1-2 fastball.
Texas A&M added an insurance run in the seventh when the runner on third scored on a steal when Ardoin’s throw to second wasn’t fielded cleanly by Faltine as Texas wasn’t able to get anything going offensively. Right-hander Zane Morehouse wasn’t able to get out of the eighth inning, hitting a batter on a 2-2 pitch and then giving up a double down the left-field line.
With the loss, a season that began with expectations of competing for the national championship ends without Texas even managing to be competitive at the College World Series.