Baseball Regional: Horns Put Penguins On Ice

<B>Justin Simmons</B> gave the Horns seven strong innings, and <B>Taylor Teagarden's</B> two homers paced a Longhorn offensive attack that pounded out 15 hits and 10 runs as No. 1 seed Texas opened NCAA Tournament play with a 10-3 win over No. 4 seed Youngstown State.

"Justin was effective with all three pitches, getting them over the plate and challenging them early in the count," Augie Garrido said of his senior lefty. Simmons improved to 10-3 on the season with his 7-plus-inning, three earned run performance.

"He's a bulldog," Youngstown State head coach Mike Florak said. "You see that in the way he competes and comes after people. He was not to be denied... He had a fire in his belly and came after our guys."

The Texas O tagged YSU starter Justin Thomas for 13 hits and eight earned runs in six innings.

"Any mistakes I made, they capitalized on them," Thomas said.

No one more so than Teagarden, who collected three hits on the night, including two, two-run left field blasts (one off of Thomas). The Longhorn first baseman finished with four RBI.

"I got situations with runners on base, the pitchers had to throw strikes and before you know it, I had two home runs," Teagarden said.

Drew Stubbs, Seth Johnston, Carson Kainer and David Maroul all rapped two base hits for the Horns.

"Their hitters are extremely disciplined," Florak said. "They are the most well-coached baseball team I've seen in my life, no question."

Youngstown State, though, registered the first hit of the game in the top of the first on a one-out, ground rule double to left center by Brandon Caipen, but Texas CF Stubbs gunned him down trying to advance to third on a long fly out by Charles Schultz. The Horns also threatened in the home half of the frame when Curtis Thigpen doubled with two outs, followed by a walk to Teagarden, and then a wild pitch by Penguins' starter Thomas to put both in scoring position, but Kainer flew out to right to end the inning.

YSU pushed across the first run of the game in the second with a fruitful two-out rally of its own. Singles from Adam Cox and Brian Boone set up Clint Ford for an RBI single before Simmons got a generous called third strike on No. 9 hitter Jim Phillips to end the inning.

Texas quickly answered, denying the underdogs any lasting momentum. Ryan Russ led off the bottom of the second with a single, and J.D. Reininger, after failing to get down a sac bunt, swung away on the two strike pitch and belted a ball to the right center field gap for a double that scored Russ all the way from first. Reininger moved to third on Robby Hudson's sac bunt, and after Maroul struck out looking (on a similar call to the one that saved Simmons in the top of the inning; the home plate ump was at least consistent on the call), Stubbs swatted a ball down the third base line that 3B Phillips couldn't handle, scoring Reininger to give the Horns the lead for good.

Pitching with the lead, Simmons settled down. After giving up four hits and a walk vs. the first nine Penguins that came to the plate, the senior lefty faced just two over the minimum in the third through the seventh. He got some help behind him. For the game, the Horns turned three infield double plays and threw another baserunner out on a fly ball out to thwart several potential Penguin threats.

"Defensively, UT was just flawless," the YSU head coach said.

Simmons finally got some breathing room in the fourth when Texas scored two on a Maroul RBI double that scored Reininger and a Stubbs single that scored Maroul to make it 4-1, and then the Horns blew it open with four in the sixth. The big blow in the inning came off the bat of Teagarden. The sophomore smashed the first of his two no-doubt, two-run shots. This one almost cleared the top of the scoreboard in deep left center. Maroul also collected his second RBI double of the evening and Thigpen lifted an RBI sac fly.

Youngstown State sent Simmons to the bench in the top of the eighth after a leadoff double from Phillips followed by a walk to Kendall Schlabach. Tom Holliday called on Kyle Yates to shut down the Penguins, but the right-handed reliever gave up consecutive singles, allowing one run to score with the bases loaded and still no one out. Yates, though, kept YSU from making it too interesting by striking out Jim Lipinski, forcing Justin Banks into an RBI groundout and sending the visitors back to the dugout still down 8-3 by K-ing Cox.

Teagarden quickly got those two back with his second blast of the game which cleared both left field fences, landing in the parking lot, for the final margin of victory. J. Brent Cox, making his first appearance since before his Big 12 Tournament suspension, closed out the game by retiring the last two batters in the ninth.

Texas will face Oral Roberts at 3 p.m. on Saturday in a winner's bracket game, while Youngstown State (22-31) and TCU (38-25) will play an 11 a.m. elimination game. The Golden Eagles opened with a 6-5 win over the Horned Frogs in Friday's early game.

"They've got nine losses for the year," Garrido said. "They're a competitive team, they're well-coached, they battle with two strikes and they do the little things to win."

Texas (51-13) will pitch No. 1 starter J.P. Howell. Oral Roberts (49-9) had not made an official announcement on its starter by Friday night.

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