RHP Kenn Kasparek ran his overall mark to a perfect 7-0 as the freshman saw his first postseason action in a Longhorn uniform. Kasparek was credited with four strikeouts, two walks, and surrendered five early hits in a career-best seven innings of work. Kasparek has come on like gangbusters lately, issuing just one earned run in four of the past five outings.
"It was pretty exciting for me," Kasparek said. "Everybody played great. The defense was just amazing."
The Quinnipiac defense was anything but, as the Bobcats were guilty of six errors in the ballgame. RHP Pat Egan (4.28 ERA) shouldered the loss as his overall mark dropped to 7-5.
Offensively, the Horns bombed the Bobcats with 16 hits. DH Will Crouch and CF Drew Stubbs paced the Longhorn hit parade. Both contributed three RBIs and a homer, as Stubbs collected three hits in four at-bats while Crouch added two hits in three plate appearances.
"This was a complete game, from our point of view," head coach Augie Garrido said. "This was one of our best games this year."
The Horns can now turn to their ace in hole as a well-rested RHP Kyle McCulloch (9-3, 2.70 ERA) faces No. 2 seed Arkansas, 6 p.m., Saturday. The Razorbacks advanced after dismissing MAC champion Miami (Ohio), 9-5, in the afternoon game.
With evening temperatures in the upper 80s and humidity thick enough to stand a spoon, it felt like Tournament time in Austin, Texas.
Quinnipiac loaded the bases with three straight singles to open the game before Northeastern Conference Player of the Year Bryan Sabatella came to the plate with no outs. The first baseman grounded into a double-play ball but it plated the run from third as the Bobcats got things started with a 1-0 lead. DH Brien Magee drew the first walk of the contest to put runners at the corners but Kasparek fanned SS Wilson Matos on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The rough start did not faze the freshman, as Kasparek grew stronger with each passing frame.
"You have to be confident enough to know you're going to get out of the inning," he said. "They got one run out of it. That's pretty good in my book."
2B Robby Hudson was issued a free pass after Egan pegged him in the shoulder and then stole second on the 1-1pitch to CF Drew Stubbs. After Stubbs was granted a base on balls, Hudson was thrown out at third on the double-steal attempt. SS Seth Johnston's RBI single to right plated Stubbs from second to knot the affair at 1-1. 1B Chance Wheeless walked to put runners on first and second but LF Carson Kainer's double play ended the inning.
2B Randy Gress' one-out, solo shot (just his fourth homer of the season) in the top of the second reclaimed the lead for the Bobcats, 2-1.
DH Will Crouch reached second after Gress committed both a fielding error and a throwing error. That's when C Taylor Teagarden stepped to the plate for the first time since injuring his rib cage at Texas A&M, May 20. His RBI single into right field scored Crouch, resulting in a 2-2 tie and a standing ovation from the partisan Longhorn crowd. (The initial at-bat was the only time all night the junior experienced pain, Garrido said. After Texas built a comfortable nine-run lead after six innings, Garrido asked Teagarden if he wanted to come out of the game. Teagarden said "no".)
Quinnipiac put runners on first and second with a pair of singles with two down in the top of the third but SS Wilson Matos' pop-up to shallow center ended the brief uprising. But that's when the fireworks started for Texas.
Stubbs led off the home half of the frame with a sharply hit ball to center field. Johnston brought his team-leading .404 batting average to the plate and, this time, laced a shot into left field to put runners at the corner with none out. Stubbs then slid head-first into home after a passed ball on the 0-1 pitch spotted Texas its first lead of the game, 3-2. But the Horns weren't done -- not by a long shot. (In fact, a couple of long shots were on tap as Texas put this one away early.)
Kainer's one-out, monster shot over the left field wall elicited gasps from the Longhorn faithful to extend the lead, 5-2. 3B David Maroul became Texas' second hit batsman of the ballgame, setting the table for Crouch's solo shot over the left-center field wall. Teagarden reached after Sabatella failed to cleanly field his hard-hit ball down the first base line before RF Nick Peoples laid a picture-perfect bunt down the third base line and beat out the long-distance throw to put runners on first and second. Hudson sacrificed both runners into scoring position before Stubbs came to bat for the second time in the inning. His base-clearing homer over left field wall gave Texas an insurmountable 10-2 bulge, sending Egan to the dugout and RHP Chris Gresh to the mound. All told, the Horns tallied eight runs on seven hits and left two on board to quickly end what little suspense there may have been surrounding the postseason opener.
After two scoreless innings, Kainer led off the bottom of the sixth with a stand-up double as his shot to center reached the warning track. Maroul's deep sacrifice fly to right field put Kainer within 90 feet of home and brought Crouch to the plate. The DH slapped the first pitch he saw across second base and into center field to extend the Longhorn lead, 11-2. Teagarden's single put runners on the corners. Likewise, Peoples swatted the first pitch down the pike into left-center field to tally the second run of the inning.
The Horns had built a 10-run cushion by the seventh inning stretch. That meant it was safe for reliever Buck Cody (4.12 ERA) to take the hill. RF Ryan Rizzo hit into a double play after John Delaney sent a 3-2 pitch down the third base line and beat the throw to first. After Cody issued a walk, Sabatella grounded out to first to leave two runners aboard in the top of the eighth.
The Bobcats sent RHP Tyler Brett to the mound in the bottom of the inning. The freshman managed to force Teagarden into a fielder's choice but loaded the bases on three walks. Hudson's infield dribbler pushed across a run after C Kevin MacIlvane failed to tag Hudson at the plate. A passed ball brought Teagarden home before Stubbs was issued his second base-on-balls of the contest.
You just felt like something was going to happen when leading-hitter Seth Johnston took his last at-bat. In this case, a playable ball got past Gress at second for his second error of the game as two more Longhorn runners came home. That gave Brett a quick ticket back to the dugout as sophomore RHP Paul Gibson tried to stop the bleeding.
Garrido, meanwhile, sent pinch hitters to the plate for the remainder of the ballgame. Calvin Beamon's 2-RBI triple added to the drubbing before Clay Van Hook's RBI single to right plated Beamon. By the time Bryan Herrera hit into a double play, the Horns had pushed across eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the eighth.
Clayton Stewart came on in the top of the ninth to put this one in the record books.
"You can understand why the Texas Longhorns are one of the finest teams in the country," Quinnipiac coach Dan Gooley said. "They attack you in every way. I've got to tip my hat to them. They were outstanding and they deserved to win."