Sunday's championship game win scarcely resembled Saturday's winner's bracket contest. After surviving a 10-8, 26-hit slugfest in the teams' first post-season meeting, Texas used outstanding pitching from Alan Bomer and Huston Street, plus just enough offensive production and aggressive base running to beat the Bears 2-0 to end Baylor's season while extending its own for at least another weekend.
In his 7-1/3 inning stint, Bomer surrendered six hits but no runs before giving way to Street in the eighth. Street immediately gave up a single to Trey Webb but he then struck out Paul Richmond and forced Chris Durbin to pop out to end the inning. After issuing a free pass to ninth inning leadoff man Ross Bennett, the Texas closer retired Mike Huggins and David Murphy on fly outs and then mowed down pinch hitter Ron Zboril to complete the title-clinching shutout.
"It was unbelievable," Street said of the feeling on the field when Zboril went down. "This is what we've been fighting for all season and this is where we deserve to be."
The Horns scored single runs in the fourth, on a Jeff Ontiveros-induced Sean Walker bases loaded balk, and in the fifth, on a Dustin Majewski double off the left field wall that brought in Tim Moss. Majewski earned tourney MVP honors for the second weekend in a row and Bomer, Brad Halsey, Moss, Omar Quintanilla, Kalani Napoleon and J.D. Reininger joined him on the All-Tournament team.
The Bears out-hit the Horns 7-4, but great pitching and several defensive gems, plus a bit of luck, helped the UT pitchers hold on to the shutout.
Bomer pitched out of a second-and-third, no-out jam in the sixth by striking out Webb, getting Durbin on a sharply hit liner to third and then forcing Bennett into a flyout to center. The junior transfer, with a couple of harmless groundouts, also stranded Richmond on third after the BU catcher smacked a one-out triple off the wall in left center in the fourth.
Defensively, Quintanilla, along with snagging the liner in the sixth, turned a difficult down-the-line grounder by Webb leading off the first into a relatively routine groundout, and the Texas outfielders tracked down just about everything hit to the gaps.
The Horns also got the benefit of a catcher's interference call on Huggins that not only sent the Baylor first baseman to the bench as the first out of the second inning but also forced Bennett back to first after his seemingly successful steal attempt. Bomer then induced Murphy into an inning-ending double play. In the fourth, Webb led off with a bloop single to shallow left center but the Bears' shortstop, trying for two, overslid the bag and was tagged out at second. Richmond followed with the triple described above, a hit that obviously would have scored Webb if he had remained at second.
"We played outstanding defense behind outstanding pitching," Augie Garrido said postgame. "The baseball gods were pretty kind to us today."
"The inning with runners on second and third was a huge momentum shift and a key to the game," the Texas head coach added. "Alan competed within himself at that point at a very high level."
"I thought today's ballgame was well-played on both sides, but particularly by them," Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. "They made every play (defensively). They just played well."
"There's no shame in losing to a club as talented as the one we lost to today," Smith added.
By breaking the recent Baylor jinx -- the Horns had lost 20 of 28 games to the Bears going into the regional and hadn't managed consecutive wins over the team from up I-35 since '95 -- Texas moved one step closer to a College World Series berth. UT (51-14) will host Houston (47-15), the undefeated winners of the Mesa, AZ regional, this coming weekend at the Disch. The Horns beat the Cougs 7-6 at the Astros College Classic in February. Halsey started that game for Texas and lasted 3-2/3 innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs, before Tim McGough took over for 4-1/3, giving up five hits and three earned runs. Street picked up the first of his 10 saves on the season in that early season match-up. No. 10 came Sunday vs. the Bears.
"I thought the two best teams we played during the course of the season were Texas and Houston," Baylor's Smith said after his team closed its season at 36-26. "It will be a very, very good match-up."