Baseball: Horns one win from title game

For two games before Monday night's winners bracket College World Series contest between Texas and Stanford, <B>J.D. Reininger</B> was perfect at the plate. Perfectly awful. In the Super Regional final vs. Houston and in the CWS opener vs. Rice, the Horns' freshman DH struck out, often in ugly fashion, seven consecutive times.

Against the Cardinal, Reininger went just two of three, but this time in the hit category rather than in the K category, driving in four of UT's eight runs in the Horns' 8-7 win over Stanford. Reininger's single to left in the bottom of the first scored Tim Moss for the game's first run and his fourth inning homer off a fan in the front row of the right field bleachers extended the Longhorn lead to 7-2. His sac fly in the sixth wrapped up the Texas scoring with what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.

Credit whiffle balls and broomsticks for Reininger's batters box rebound.

"I had my dad go out and get whiffle balls and broomsticks, which is what I used to do when I wasn't seeing the ball well growing up," the freshman slugger said postgame. "The curve balls thrown with the whiffle balls come at you from any direction."

With the Stanford win in the books, Reininger and his teammates are headed in the direction of the CWS finals. The Horns are the only unbeaten team in their side of the bracket, needing just one win over Tuesday's Notre Dame-Stanford winner on either Thursday at 6 p.m. or Friday (if necessary) at 1 or 6 p.m. to advance to Saturday's 12:30 winner-take-all national title game.

"I was proud of our effort," Augie Garrido said. "It means we gained an advantage. We have two days off, and if we win the third game, we'll have extra pitchers. Now we have to capitalize on it."

UT starter Alan Bomer, who gave up a grand slam in his losing relief appearance vs. the Cardinal in Palo Alto earlier in the season, picked up the win, his 11th of the season. Stanford hit Bomer fairly hard, registering six hits and four runs before the rightie gave way to Jesen Merle with an 8-4 lead in the seventh, but the Iowa State transfer kept the ball in the park during his six innings of work Monday and thus kept the Cardinal away from any huge innings. Stanford scored two two-out runs on Merle in the inning, forcing Frank Anderson again to the pen. Brantley Jordan needed just three pitches to strike out Jason Cooper to end the threat, setting up Huston Street to close it out in the final two frames.

The Longhorn freshman stopper retired the side in order in the eighth before running into a bit of trouble in the ninth. Street walked pinch hitter Jonny Ash to lead off the inning, and after two groundouts, Ash came around to score on a Sam Fuld single up the middle. Cardinal catcher Ryan Garko, who had two hits and two RBI in three previous at-bats, stepped to the plate and represented the go-ahead run for Stanford, but Street got Garko on a check swing K for save No. 12. Tim Cunningham, who pitched nine innings of shutout ball vs. the Horns back in March, lasted just 3-2/3 on Monday, giving up five hits, four walks and seven runs to take the loss.

Texas totaled just seven hits, three less than in its opening round 2-1 win over Rice, but the Horns obviously made the most of their round two opportunities. All seven UT hits came from the top four in the batting order, with Moss, Omar Quintanilla and Reininger registering two hits each and clean-up man Jeff Ontiveros providing one, a solo homer in the third that gave the Horns a 3-zip lead.

"It's always tough to beat a quality team like Texas when you give them way too much in terms of base on balls and hit batsmen," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "Then they got the timely hits in some big spots to capitalize on those things. They beat us in all phases of the game and just played better than we did."

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