CWS: Texas To Title Series With Win Over Georgia

As their teammates knocked the ball all around Rosenblatt in UT's first two Series games, <B>Michael Hollimon</B>, <B>Taylor Teagarden</B> and <B>Carson Kainer</B> struggled to a hit-less start. In Wednesday's rematch vs. Georgia, the usual suspects -- <B>Curtis Thigpen</B>, <B>Dooley Prince</B> and <B>Seth Johnston</B> -- kept up the hit barrage, but the hit-less crew also came through to help the Horns advance to the CWS championship series with a 7-6, come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs.

Texas (58-13) will take on the winner of the other CWS bracket -- either Cal State-Fullerton or South Carolina -- in a best-of-three series for the title starting Saturday night at 6 p.m.

Hollimon, Teagarden and Kainer each collected just one hit on a day when Texas totaled 12, but each of the three hits were absolutely crucial to UT advancing without playing Georgia again Thursday. Hollimon's lead-off homer in the bottom of third got Texas on the board after UGA jumped to a 5-0 lead in the top half of the inning and Teagarden followed four batters later with another shot over the right field wall, this one a two-RBI blast to pull the Horns to within two at 5-3. Then, after Texas had briefly taken a 6-5 lead in the sixth only to have the Bulldogs tie it up with three hits and a run off of Huston Street in the top of the seventh, Kainer stepped to the plate in the bottom of the frame 0-for-9 in Omaha and facing Georgia's salty closer Will Startup. Moments later, though, he stood on second with a sweet-feelin' .100 CWS average after slapping a double down the left field line that scored Prince, who had doubled to lead off the inning, with what turned out to be the decisive run.

"I guess my first hit, that was a good place to get it," Kainer said post-game.

Same goes for the clutch smashes from Hollimon and Teagarden after the 'Dawgs grabbed the early advantage.

"Championships are won by the unexpected," Augie Garrido said. "The thing that is least likely to change the dynamics of the game happen if you're going to be the champion. That was an example of that today. We did what it took at the right time."

"In both games, no matter what we had, they had a little bit more," Georgia coach David Perno said. "They had an answer to everything. They're pretty solid, they make plays, they've got guys that drive ball, they've got guys that get big hits and they've got tons of pitching."

Good thing, that tons of pitching. Georgia jumped all over Texas in the top of third when senior starter Justin Simmons struggled with his control. Of the seven batters he faced in the frame before being yanked by Tom Holliday, Simmons fell behind five of them. Jason Jacobs led off the inning with a single and Kyle Keen followed with a sac bunt. Simmons then walked Josh Smith to put Bulldog baserunners on first and second with one out, setting up what turned out to be a costly defensive miscue by typically money David Maroul. After a double steal put runners at second and third, Justin Holmes grounded to Maroul, but the junior third baseman bobbled the ball as he appeared to have designs on trying to cut down Jacobs at the plate, and when he finally controlled the ball and tried to get Holmes chugging down the first base line, he threw wide of the bag for an E5. Next batter Marshall Szabo took advantage, driving in the second Georgia run of the inning with a groundout to the right side. Simmons then gave up back-to-back RBI singles in an inning that should have already been in the scorebook. Regardless, that sent Simmons to the showers, but J. Brent Cox had similar problems, surrendering back-to-back singles himself, the second of which scored the Bulldogs' fifth run -- four of them unearned -- of the frame.

Texas, though, responded quickly, both at the plate in the third and then on the mound through the middle innings. Hollimon, hitless in four Omaha plate appearances, led off the home half of the third by blasting a 1-0 Johnny Dobbs offering into the front rows of the right field bleachers to get UT on the board. Dobbs set down Stubbs and Johnston, but Thigpen stroked a two-out single to left and Teagarden matched Hollimon's dinger with one of his own to almost the exact same spot in the right field bleachers, plus a couple of rows, to cut it to a 5-3 Bulldog lead.

The power surge continued in the fifth when Johnston launched the Horns' third homer of the game (of an eventual four) to lead off that inning. With Cox tossing zeroes in the fourth and fifth, the shot pulled Texas to within one at 5-4.

Cox again shut out the Bulldog bats in the sixth, and the Horns clawed all the way back from the 5-0 hole to tie it in the bottom of the sixth with another long ball, this one off the bat of David Maroul. He launched a two-out, 0-1 pitch from Bo Lanier, Georgia's second pitcher of the game, into the left center bleachers. Hollimon followed with a walk and came around to score two batters later on Johnston's double to left to give Texas its first lead of the game at 6-5, turning the game over to Street in the seventh. Despite the blown save, Street earned his sixth win of the season. Matt Woods took the loss for Georgia (45-23).

"We were one run ahead when we brought in Huston and our risk in all of that was substantial," the Texas head coach said. "Our insurance was we had another game to play if we lost this one but we didn't play it that way. We played it to win this one. It was an instinct because I thought our offensive players had played so well to battle themselves back in the game and give themselves a chance to win that we went with everything we thought we could from that standpoint to rally around the efforts they were making offensively with our pitching and tried to keep a zero on board for the other side. Still it was a huge risk."

A risk that paid off with another title shot for Texas, its second in three years.


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