Super! Texas Tomahawks No. 1 'Noles, 8-3

With tradition in its hip pocket and a chip on its shoulders, the Texas baseball team (ranked No. 6 nationally but the lowest seeded Super Regional squad at No. 16) upended top-ranked Florida State 8-3 during the opening game of the Tallahassee Super Regional Sunday, sending the vast majority of a record 6,524 fans at Dick Howser Stadium home unhappy and putting the Horns a win away from a second-straight CWS appearance.

The win not only brought Texas to within nine innings of a return trip to Omaha, it tied head coach Augie Garrido with Longhorn legend Cliff Gustafson atop college baseball’s all-time career victory list with 1,427 wins.

With the opener delayed one full day after more than eight inches of precipitation saturated the field, it was the Horns who ultimately rained on FSU’s parade to draw within one game of an NCAA record 31st College World Series appearance. The second game, in which Texas will be the home team, is now slated for a 6:05 p.m. (CST) regional telecast on ESPN2. A final game, if necessary, is slated for 11 a.m. (CST) Tuesday.

Sophomore J.P. Howell (9-2) fanned five and walked four in six full innings of work to pick up the win while sophomore Huston Street came on in relief in the bottom of the seventh (after starting at third base) to earn his thirteenth save of the season. FSU pitcher Rhett James (2-4) shouldered the loss and was one of seven Seminoles to take the mound.

Freshman catcher Taylor Teagarden went 3-for-4 with a RBI while senior 2B Tim Moss went 2-for-3 on the evening. Senior OF Dustin Majewski was credited with an RBI single while stealing a career-high four bases. The thefts contributed to a season-best six steals for the Horns. Texas registered nine hits and one error on the night while the ’Noles notched eight hits and committed one error.

"The game was very hard-fought," Garrido said. "The score doesn't show how the game actually went. Both pitchers and teams were playing at a very high level. The turning point in the contest was when Eric (Sultemeier) hit the single up the middle in the seventh to score two runs."

After three scoreless innings, FSU jumped to a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the fourth without the benefit of a base hit (courtesy of three walks, a Street throwing error, plus a fielder’s choice). The ‘Noles lost their shot at a big inning, however, by leaving the bases loaded.

The ‘Horns answered during their next at-bat. After Street and Moss reached on consecutive walks, junior SS Omar Quintanilla’s two out single scored Street to narrow the deficit, 2-1. Texas would knot the contest in the top of the sixth with an unearned run after Joe Ferin’s sacrifice fly scored Eric Sultemeier from third. Sultemeier reached on a walk and advanced on a Taylor Teagarden bunt.

Howell closed out his final frame with a three-up, three-down performance in the bottom of the sixth. Texas, though, would find its offense during its next at-bat. The Horns began to distance themselves from the home team with three big runs on three base hits in the top of the seventh. After Street struck out swinging, Moss doubled to right center. Majewski reached on an intentional walk after a Quintanilla strike-out.

With FSU changing pitchers more often than Justin Timberlake changes underwear, Majewski and Moss advanced on a double-steal. That’s when Sultemeier came through with the play of the game. His two RBI single up the middle scored both base runners, giving Texas its first lead at 4-2. But the Horns weren’t finished. Teagarden doubled down the right field line, plating Sultemeier.

FSU would add a run in the bottom of the seventh to pull within 5-3 behind three straight singles, including Eddy Martinez-Esteve's RBI-base hit. But Texas answered with three more runs in the top of the ninth to grab an 8-3 lead. Quintanilla and Majewski (who stole two bases in the inning and scored the third run on a throwing error) doubled and singled in runs, respectively, following Moss’ leadoff base hit.

The Seminoles attempted to rally by placing two runners on with one out in the bottom of the ninth. But Street induced two straight fly outs to put this one in the record books.

"Certainly the University of Texas outplayed us and did the things that it takes to win," FSU head coach Mike Martin said. "I thought that J.P. Howell pitched very well and kept us off balance and made us swing at some pitches that I am sure some our hitters wished they had left alone. He really located very well and had us swinging at some pitches out of the zone which is a real credit to him."

Monday, the Seminoles are expected to start red hot hurler Matt Lynch (13-3) while Texas will go with last year’s ace Justin Simmons (5-5, 4.15 ERA).

Note: Seminole shortstop and leadoff man Stephen Drew, who left the game in the third after suffering a leg injury while running the bases, is scheduled for an MRI on Monday morning to determine the extent of his ailment and his availability for the rest of the series.

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