Super Regional: Horns Knock It All Over The Park

Friday night's anticipated pitching dual lasted, oh, about a half an hour. Or, more precisely, till the Texas hitters hammered Vanderbilt ace <B>Jeremy Sowers</B> for five runs in the bottom of the second as the Horns delivered a resounding 15-3 thumping to the visitors from the SEC, putting UT one win from a third-straight trip to Omaha. <br><br> <a href=>Photo Gallery</a>

The Horns collected 16 hits on the evening, eight of those off of first-round draft pick Sowers before sending him to the showers in the home half of the fourth. The Commodores' junior lefty faced 18 batters in his 3-1/3 innings, and 11 of them reached base safety (eight by hits -- four of those extra base hits -- and three by walks).

"Texas certainly didn't hit like a .284 team tonight," Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said post-game. "Particularly against Jeremy."

As shaky as Sowers was early, Texas starter J.P. Howell (14-2) was dominating. Vandy managed six hits and three runs (two earned) off the Longhorn lefty in seven-plus frames. Howell held up his end of the dual by sitting down 13 Commodores on Ks.

"I was more calm and relaxed than I normally am," Howell said. "I was trying to focus pitch by pitch, not get ahead of myself and not let the little things both me."

By forcing the Vandy hitters to swing outside the zone, Howell seldom went to his fastball, relying instead on some very effective breaking stuff.

"I thought he had good stuff and good command," Augie Garrido said.

Howell's contribution is quite obvious, but where to start with the offensive exploits?

Well, pick just about any Horn that stepped to the plate. Every spot in the line-up contributed at least one hit and all but the DH spot drove in at least one run. The top four in the order -- Drew Stubbs, Seth Johnston, Curtis Thigpen and Taylor Teagarden -- each drove in two runs, with both Stubbs and Teagarden going yard. Teagarden's shot sailed well over the Green Monster in dead center, making the sophomore just the 29th player in stadium history to accomplish the feat.

But No. 8 hitter Michael Hollimon paced the team on the night with three RBI, including a solo home run. His first two RBI came in the second when Texas blew it wide open.

The Horns jumped all over Sowers in the inning, scoring five runs on four hits. Hollimon, in the line-up at short due to his performance in the final two games of last week's regional, delivered the first blow when he smashed a shot just inside the first base bag for a triple, scoring Carson Kainer, who walked to lead off the inning, and David Maroul, who earned the first hit off of Sowers one batter before Hollimon's shot. Ryan Russ followed with a walk, Sowers' third of the game after issuing free passes to just 23 hitters all season, to put men on the corners still with just one out. The Vandy lefty forced Stubbs to fly out to right, but the Horns plated three more on a Johnston RBI single and a Thigpen two-RBI double to spot Texas a quick 5-zip lead.

"Any person on this team can jump start the ball club and tonight it was that (second-inning) at bat," Hollimon said. "Tonight was a great team win. Everyone contributed.

Hollimon, though, started the scoring again in the fourth when he led off the home half of the frame with a dinger to left. Johnston drove in another in the inning to give Texas a 7-0 advantage, and Texas added a four-spot in the fifth (to answer the 'Dores' two-run top half of the inning), a single run in the sixth and three more in the seventh before Vandy scratched for a single run in the eighth to provide the final margin.

"Anyone that came to the game tonight's gotta think that this (Texas) team's got the making of a national championship team," the Vandy head coach said. "The great thing about it is it's over," Corbin said. "We can come back and play again."

The two teams will square off again Saturday at 12:05 at the Disch. A Texas (54-13) win will give the Horns the Super Regional championship and a spot in Omaha. A Vanderbilt (45-18) win will force a third and deciding game on Sunday at 2:05. Sophomore Sam LeCure will take the hill for UT Saturday while the Commodores will send out a sophomore of their own, lefty Ryan Mullins.

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