Baseball: Horns' Saturday starter still TBA

Of the eight College World Series coaches, all but UT's <B>Augie Garrido</B> announced his team's opening game starter at a Thursday afternoon media conference at Rosenblatt Stadium. Last minute NCAA tourney pitching decisions have landed Texas in Omaha, so why change now?

Although Garrido didn't tip his hand, the UT head coach recently hinted that match-up considerations would probably determine when regular season ace Justin Simmons returns to the hill. Rice's rightie-filled line-up (five of the Owls' eight position players in the batting order bat from the right side of the plate) strongly suggests that Saturday will not be the day for Simmons. If Garrido and pitching coach Frank Anderson base their starting pitcher decision on the opposing line-up, either recently-strong Ray Clark or Alan Bomer, both righties, is the most likely opening game starter.

Clark has turned in a spectacular post-season so far, registering a 1.00 ERA and picking up three wins in three appearances. The hard throwing junior tossed eight innings in a Big 12 Tournament game start, allowing Oklahoma just five hits and one earned run while striking out 10 and walking none in UT's 2-1 win. Clark followed that up with a 3-2/3 inning relief performance vs. Baylor in game two of the Regional at the Disch, surrendering three hits and one earned run in the Horns' 10-8 win over the Bears. Finally, last Saturday vs. Houston, Clark took over for an ineffective Simmons in the third and closed out the game, pitching 6-1/3 innings and allowing three hits and no earned runs while striking out nine and walking just two in the 17-2 Texas win. For the season, Clark is 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA.

Bomer has turned in similarly strong post-season performances, collecting a 2.38 ERA and winning three games in three starts. The junior transfer from Iowa State started his personal post-season run of success by pitching eight innings vs. A&M in a Big 12 Tournament elimination game, allowing the Ags four earned runs in UT's 9-4 win. Bomer followed that up with a 7-1/3 inning, six-hit, shutout win over Baylor in the Regional Championship Game. Finally, last Sunday vs. Houston, Bomer pitched another 7-1/3 solid innings, surrendering seven hits and two earned runs in the Horns' 5-2, CWS-clinching win over the Cougs in the Super Regional Championship Game. Perhaps the most amazing post-season stat for Bomer is his one walk vs. 15 Ks in 22-2/3 innings pitched. For the season, Bomer is 10-3 with a 3.72 ERA.

Rice coach Wayne Graham confirmed that Steven Herce will take the mound for the Owls vs. the Horns in Saturday's 6 p.m. CWS opener for both teams. Herce blanked LSU in Rice's Super Regional opener, limiting the hot-hitting Tigers to three hits. Herce did not allow an LSU runner to advance to second base in the complete-game shutout. The 6-3, 200-pound rightie is 13-2 on the season with a 2.82 ERA and has 96 Ks and just 22 walks in 111-2/3 innings pitched.

Neither Herce, Clark nor Bomer pitched in either of the teams' regular season meetings. Texas won 3-2 in 10 innings on April 9 in Austin with Eugene Espineli, Tim McGough and the official winner Brantley Jordan combining for the W. UT used six pitchers in its 4-2 win at Reckling Park in Houston on May 14, with Daniel Muegge picking up the win and Huston Street registering the save.

Regardless of who's one the mound, Garrido said Thursday that he sees the rematch with Rice "as a very even match-up."

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