Phew! UT In Supers After Sweating Out Lamar

Freshman reliever <B>J. Brent Cox </B>tossed a career-best 6-1/3 innings while striking out a career-high eight batters as<B> </B>No. 6 Texas (46-18) got past pesky Lamar 6-3 to advance to the NCAA Super Regional Tournament during the second championship game of the Austin NCAA Regional Tournament at Disch-Falk Field Sunday. Now, Texas meets top-seeded Florida State in Tallahassee in a best-of-three NCAA Super-Regional. The tournament dates and times will be announced 11 a.m., Monday (CST).

The Cardinals forced the second game by scoring six unanswered runs to take a 6-2 decision earlier in the day. But Cox (5-0) turned in the most dominating performance of his young career, retiring 19 of the 23 batters he faced during the rematch.

Still, no small part of the reason why Texas advances and has an outstanding shot at upending the Seminoles in their own backyard is senior outfielder Dustin Majewski.

Majewski went 2-for-4 with one RBI in the second game en route to garnering his second straight NCAA Austin Regional Most Outstanding Player Award. Majewski hit .438 during the tournament and has hit safely in 24 of his 26 career postseason games. He was also named a USA Today Sports Weekly first-team All-American on Sunday.

In the decisive second game of the day, the Longhorns jumped to 2-0 lead in the top of the first as both Majewski and Eric Sultemeier singled and then pulled a double steal with two away, scoring on Taylor Teagarden’s RBI-base hit to right field.

But starting Texas pitcher Josh Smith didn’t last the inning. Lamar's Matt Gowan, named to the All-Tournament team, was a virtual Longhorn-killer in three games against the Burnt Orange. His two-out, bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the frame gave Lamar a 3-2 lead. Cox, who didn’t last one-third inning on Saturday, came on in relief. This time, Cox held the Cardinal to only one hit during his first 6-1/3 innings of work.

The 3-2 score remained until the fifth when Huston Street (manning the hot corner instead of J.D. Reininger) singled home Joe Ferin who led off the inning with a double. Ferin has now hit safely in a career-best 21 contests. Majewski then singled with two runners on which, along with a Cardinal fielding error, yielded two more scores to give Texas a 5-3 lead.

The Horns added another run in the top of the eighth. Curtis Thigpen led off with a single, moved to second on a balk and then came home on a Lamar throwing error after Seth Johnston beat out a bunt single.

With Texas holding a 6-3 lead, Street (God love him) moved to the mound and retired Lamar's final six batters in order over the final two innings to preserve the Texas win and tally his 12th save of the season.

In the first championship game, Texas jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, fueled by a pair of doubles from Omar Quintanilla and Majewski followed by a Teagarden two-out single. But Lamar pitcher Trey Rinando settled down after the first frame, scattering six more hits and no more runs during the complete game effort. Texas reliever Jesen Merle (3-3) took the loss.

Lamar answered with a run in the third when Blake Justice drew a leadoff walk, stole second and came around to score on successive groundouts. The Cardinals took their first lead at 3-2 in the fifth behind a Justice double from Justice, a Jeremy Gray single and Jordan Foster’s RBI base hit.

Following a scoreless sixth, Lamar put three on the board keyed by Gowan's two-run double and Shane Jensen’s two-out, RBI single to go up 6-2. Texas placed two runners on with one out in the ninth, but a double-play ground ball ended the contest, setting up a second championship game.

"The games today showed how baseball is played," Augie Garrido said. "The team that gets the momentum first can play more relaxed and competitive. The team that is behind in the last three innings tries too hard to make the plays. The first and second games were flip-flopped (in that regard). The second game will be a game that we can look back at and see that it helped us along more than we could know while we were in the moment."

Victorious in the nightcap, the Longhorns earned their 28th NCAA Regional Championship. It will be Texas’ third Super Regional appearance since 1999.

The 2003 Austin NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team
Catcher: Matt Gowan, Lamar
First Base: Haas Pratt, Arkansas
Second Base: Scott Bridges, Arkansas
Shortstop: Omar Quintanilla, Texas
Third Base: Ryan Finan, Lamar
Outfield: Shaun Stanton, Lamar
Outfield: Dustin Majewski, Texas
Outfield: Joe Ferin, Texas
DH: John Allen, Lamar
Pitcher: Justin Simmons, Texas
Pitcher: Trey Rinando, Lamar

Most Outstanding Player: Dustin Majewski, Texas

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