Title Repeat: Horns Big 12 Tourney Champs!

Last season, Texas forged its championship mettle at the conference tournament in Arlington, emerging out of the loser's bracket to claim its first Big 12 tourney title and paving the way for a post-season run through Austin to Omaha and the school's fifth National Championship. Head coach <B>Augie Garrido</B> hopes the Horns' second consecutive title, earned Sunday with a 10-8, 10th-inning win over Baylor at the Bricktown Ballpark in OKC, signals the start of another championship run.

"I think it is good for our players," the Texas head coach said after his Horns overcame a mid-game 6-1 deficit, and a rare blown save by Huston Street, to top the fourth-seeded Bears. "We battled hard and this is the place where we found our confidence level last year. I hope it will have the same effect on us this year."

Like last year, Texas (43-17) will host an NCAA Regional at the Disch, although the entire tournament field, UT's four-team draw and the top eight national seeds won't be announced until Monday.

Dustin Majewski added to his trophy collection with a tournament MVP repeat (with 12 hits and 12 RBI in six tournament games). The senior right fielder finished the championship game with three RBI on a three-for-five plate performance and extended his Big 12 Tourney hitting streak to a record 12 games.

Curtis Thigpen delivered all five times he stepped to the plate Sunday (a tourney-first five-for-five performance), including in the bottom of the 10th when he smacked a Tyler Bullock offering into the left field bleachers, scoring Seth Johnston ahead of him to provide the winning runs. Bullock took the loss for the Bears (41-21).

Street picked up his eighth win of the season. The sophomore closer, after pitching out of a slight jam in the eighth (runner on third with one out), allowed Baylor to plate two runs in the top of the ninth to send the game to extra innings tied at 8. It could have been worse. After Street loaded the bases with no outs and then allowed one run to score on an RBI groundout, Joe Ferin tracked down and caught a Zach Dillon drive that, if it had fallen (and off the bat, it looked like a sure hit), would have given the Bears a 9-8 lead with just one out. Instead, the tying run scored on the sacrifice and Street then forced an inning-ending groundout from Chris Durbin to keep the game knotted at 8.

The Horns couldn't rally in the home half of the ninth, but Street returned to the mound in the 10th and sat the Bears down in order, setting up Thigpen's bottom of the 10th heroics. Street also helped the Horns' cause in the field as a third-inning defensive replacement at third base. After stepping in for J.D. Reininger, whose second-inning error led to three unearned Baylor runs, Street turned in run-saving stops in the third and the sixth.

In a surprise move from Garrido, Zach Gallenkamp, who before Sunday had pitched just 13-2/3 innings all season and had not started a game, got the call for Texas and pitched well in the first but didn't make it out of the second, giving up four hits and four runs (one earned) in the frame. Jesen Merle and J. Brent Cox gave up a run each in middle relief but Kevin Frizzell shut down the Bears in his two innings of work, allowing the Longhorn bats to close the 6-1 gap and then take a late lead. Texas picked up three in the fifth and two each in the seventh and eighth to take an 8-6 advantage into the ninth.

"We had to work so much harder this year," Majewski said. "We had everything going against us the whole tournament. We got behind today, we got behind yesterday and we had to come back and beat A&M. But this is where it starts now, we have a regional to look forward to."

"We are just getting started," Omar Quintanilla added.

Horns Digest Top Stories