Baseball: On to Omaha

Houston proved Friday night that it had the best pitcher in the series. Saturday and Sunday, Texas proved it had the best team.

The Horns earned their 29th overall trip to Omaha (and second in three years) with a 5-2 win over the Cougars Sunday at the Disch. UH jumped on top with a single run in the first, but Alan Bomer shut down the Cougs over the next six innings while the UT bats came alive for five runs.

After Saturday's score-fest, the big inning eluded Texas Sunday, but the Horns were able to scratch for two in the second and one in the fifth off of Houston's first-time starter (and game loser) Nathan Mitchell before touching UH relievers for single spots in the sixth and seventh. Matt Rosenberg plated Jeff Ontiveros with the tying run in the bottom of the second and Ryan Hubele followed with a two-out RBI single that brought home Brandon Fahey and put UT on top for good. Ontiveros, who went yard twice in Saturday's game, managed just one hit Sunday, but it was a big one. The Texas first baseman sent a two-out Ryan Wagner offering into left field to score Omar Quintanilla from second to push the Longhorn lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Quintanilla added a two-out RBI single of his own in the sixth to extend the Texas lead to 4-1.

"With championship teams, it comes down to what you do with two outs," Houston coach Rayner Noble said. "That's how Texas won this Super Regional, with big two out hits."

Augie Garrido didn't downplay the importance of his team's two-out hitting, calling it a sign of the team's confidence, but instead pointed to pitching and defense -- particularly from 2B Tim Moss and RF Rosenberg, who both robbed Houston batters of base hits -- as the tone-setters in Sunday's game.

The Texas head coach also complimented the contribution of Chris Carmichael, calling it representative of his players' dedication to team. Garrido tabbed Carmichael, who spent most of the season on the bench, to pinch hit for hitless DH J.D. Reininger in the seventh, and the fifth-year senior responded to the rare opportunity by lacing an RBI triple down the right field line, plating Fahey to wrap up UT's run-scoring production and ruin UH reliever Jesse Crain's previously perfect 0.00 season ERA.

With Bomer and then Huston Street on the mound, those five runs easily held up. Bomer (10-3), who threw first pitch strikes to 21 of the 27 Cougar batters he faced, gave way to Street with one on and one out in the top of the eighth, and the freshman closer faced the minimum in his 1-2/3 innings of scoreless relief after Stuart Musselwhite grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

"We saw phenomenal pitching on their behalf," Noble said. "Bomer was nothing short of spectacular."

The Iowa State junior transfer and the true freshman legacy combined for a second consecutive stellar (and clutch) Sunday performance. Last week, Bomer and Street blanked Baylor, sending Texas into the Super Regional round, and this week, the two held Houston to two runs on eight hits to clinch a berth in the College World Series.

No. 5 seed UT (53-15) will take on No. 4 seed Rice (52-12) in Omaha at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. The Owls advanced to the CWS with 6-0 and 3-0 wins over Super Regional foe LSU at Reckling Park. Rice pitchers Steven Herce and Justin Crowder pitched back-to-back complete-game shutouts in the series.

"Rice is the No. 1 team in the country," Garrido said postgame Sunday. "We've been fortunate to win two games (vs. the Owls) in the regular season but you can toss those out the window at this time. They've been very consistent all year long and they've won a lot of big ballgames."

Noble, whose team played Rice five times during the regular season, losing four, said the winner of the opening round game in Omaha between the Horns and Owls may be determined by "who ends up beating themselves."

The Houston head coach, though, added that this weekend's Texas pitching was "as good as we've seen all year."

Because of that -- as well as great defense and solid hitting -- the Horns will next be seen at Rosenblatt Stadium, with a shot at a recently elusive national title.

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