Texas Takes Game Two

Just like on Friday, the Texas pitching did its job. But unlike in game one of the Super Regional against Arizona State, the Longhorn bats came to play too, helping Texas to a 5-1 win and forcing a game three on Sunday.

Early on, it appeared that the Longhorns (48-17) might experience a similar fate. Texas entered the game after going 1-6 with runners in scoring position in game one, and the Longhorns only scored one run, an unearned run, through the first five innings. That run came when Mark Payton's sacrifice fly drove in Paul Montalbano. But that Texas even had that goal was a gift: Payton's fly ball would have been the third out if not for a missed call on a tag applied by Arizona State (43-17) earlier in the inning.

Texas's second run came in a more conventional manner. Payton walked, Brandon Loy bunted Payton to second and Erich Weiss doubled, scoring Payton. That gave the Longhorns a 2-0 lead, though that margin was quickly tested.

The Sun Devils added a run of their own in the sixth. Cole Green, who pitched five innings of shutout ball, was pulled after allowing runners to get to first and third with no outs in the bottom of the sixth. Toby Milner replaced Green, but allowed a sacrifice fly to Joey DeMichele, scoring Devan Marrero from third.

The Sun Devils almost tied the game in the seventh, but first-baseman Tant Shepherd made a great play throwing home to nail Benjamin, ending the inning.

The Longhorns then entered the ninth needing an insurance run, and Jordan Etier, who helped Shepherd by blocking the plate in the seventh, bombed a pitch into the left-field bullpen for a three-run home run and all the insurance runs Texas needed. Shepherd tripled right after, but had the tables turned as he was nailed in a play at the plate to end the inning. Closer Corey Knebel shut down the Sun Devils, mowing through their final six batters in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Longhorns will need to bring those bats to earn a trip to the College World Series on Sunday, though they should have the pitching advantage. The Sun Devils lack a true No. 3 starter at this point, and could turn to Mitchell Lambson, who pitched two innings in relief in the first game. Meanwhile, the Longhorns haven't used Sam Stafford, the equivalent of a second staff ace.

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