No Title Game Berth, But Horns Hang On vs. NU

Texas A&M's win over Kansas State in the early game at Bricktown Ballpark Saturday meant that Texas' conference tournament title run was done, but the Horns, eyeing the upcoming NCAA Tournament, used the Nebraska game to get the pitching staff primed.

That meant mound time for both Adrian Alaniz, UT's typical Saturday starter, and Sunday starter Austin Wood.

And Wood's shutdown performance over 3-2/3 innings in relief of a struggling Alaniz meant a 5-4 victory over the Huskers (30-25) as a lead-in to meaningful post-season play. Wood improved to 8-1 on the season with the win. Randy Boone picked up save No. 13 with 2-1/3 innings of, at times, dramatic relief. NU starter Johnny Dorn took the loss.

"I didn't really feel that comfortable today, but as I've been working on the last couple weeks, I just took everything pitch to pitch," Wood said. "That's what I did today and I had the confidence in myself and in my team to make pitches that led to outs."

Texas (44-15) is expected to open NCAA Tournament play Friday at the Dell Diamond (the official announcement will come Sunday at 2:30 p.m.), and the Horns are also expected to be named one of the national seeds, which would put the team on a ‘home' path for a possible return trip to the College World Series.

The Aggies, despite an identical 2-1 mark in Oklahoma City, earned a title game berth over the Horns by virtue of their head-to-head win Thursday at Bricktown.

In that loss to A&M, Chance Wheeless was one of the few Horns with a hot bat, and that continued vs. the Huskers. The senior first baseman had a perfect day at the plate, collecting four hits in four at-bats, driving in two and scoring what turned out to be the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. Bradley Suttle, Preston Clark and Chais Fuller each added an RBI, and Jordan Danks and Fuller each collected two hits.

Texas jumped on top in its first at-bat when Jordan Danks led off the game with a single to right and scored after stealing second when Wheeless hit a rocket off the glove of Husker second baseman Jake Opitz for the RBI single.

Nebraska answered in the home half of the third, but it came on a gift from Fuller, who lost leadoff hitter D.J. Belfonte's infield pop-up in the sun and Belfonte scored on an Andrew Brown single to knot the score at one.

Clark opened the top half of the second with a homer down the left field line to push the Horns to a 2-1 lead.

Texas added to its advantage in the top of the third when Danks and Russell both came around to score after walking to lead off the inning. Wheeless drove in Danks with a single to right for his second RBI of the day, and Suttle's sac fly scored Russell.

Nebraska battled back in the bottom half of the frame, though, fighting for hits and walks on two strike counts: after falling behind 0-2, catcher Jeff Lanning singled to lead off the inning and after Belfonte singled and Craig Corriston bunted Lanning and Belfonte to second and third, Texas starter Adrian Alaniz jumped ahead of Brown 0-2 but eventually walked the Husker first baseman to load the bases. Opitz followed with a bloop two-RBI single on another 0-2 count to cut the Longhorn lead to 4-3. Alaniz settled down to retire the final two batters, but those would be the final hitters he faced as he gave way to Wood to start the bottom of the fourth.

Wood pitched 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief, retiring 11 in a row before Chais Fuller's error allowed the first Husker base runner since the two-run third. Belfonte followed with an infield single that brought Skip Johnson to the mound and Randy Boone in from the ‘pen. Boone forced a flyout from Corriston to end the Nebraska threat.

Texas added an insurance run in the top of the eighth, the Horns' only run vs. Nebraska reliever Luke Wertz, when Fuller atoned for his error in the previous inning by sending a bases loaded single up the middle to score Wheeless. The run proved critical. The Huskers got the run back in the bottom of the eighth with a two-out rally that included a run scored and before Boone forced Lanning into a bases loaded, inning-ending fielder's choice.

Boone surrendered a one-out single in the ninth before setting down the final two Nebraska batters.


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