"I needed that home run for the cycle," Quintanilla said. "Anything to help my team win."
Get it Sunday, Omar! Thats when Texas will face the winner of the Lamar, a 7-6 winner over Arkansas in 11 innings in Saturday evening's elimination game, in the championship bracket 1 p.m. (CST) at the Disch. A win and the Horns will advance to a Super Regional next weekend vs. the winner of the Tallahasse regional (where Florida State dropped its Saturday afternoon game and now must win two over South Alabama on Sunday to advance). A loss and Texas will face the Cardinals again in a winner-take-all game.
Starter J. P. Howell (8-2) allowed five hits and struck out three over 5-1/3 innings while Huston Street notched his 11th save of the season, extending his own school record for a sophomore.
The Longhorns and Cardinals traded runs in the second inning as Curtis Thigpen delivered a two-out run with a triple in the top half of the frame and Lamars Matt Gowan connected on a run-scoring double in the bottom of the inning to tie the game, 1-1.
Tim Moss leadoff triple started a three-run inning in the sixth, including Quintanillas RBI-single. Joe Ferin extended his hitting streak to a career best 19 games with a run-scoring double to build a 4-1 lead.
But the Cardinals answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame as Shaun Stanton singled with two down and runners on second and third to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Lamar plated a pair after third baseman J. D. Reininger, instead of opting for the (relatively) easy tag at the hot corner, threw wide to first base.
Texas used two relief pitchers (J. Brent Cox, Brantley Jordan) just to get the final out of sixth inning. But Street came on in the seventh and steadied the team when he retired the side in just nine pitches.
Holding a slim one-run lead heading into the final frame (against a squad that took two from Rice earlier in the year and rallied to beat Arkansas Friday), Texas added three insurance runs. The big inning started with Curtis Thigpens RBI-single that brought home DH Seth Johnston. Thats when Quintanilla put the game on ice with his one-out triple.
"I was looking for a fastball, up and in," Quintanilla said, "and it was a high fastball. I just tried to hit it as hard as I could. It went right through his hands and I was running like crazy."
Street held the Cardinals scoreless over the final inning to complete his three frames of two-hit work and seal the deal for Texas.
"We have a lot of confidence now, playing each game one at a time, and trying to stay in the moment," Street said. "We do not want to compare this team to last year or get too far ahead of ourselves. We just come out every day, and try to stay on top of the game."