Green Does It All In Win Over Army

Cole Green did it all on Friday night, pitching seven strong innings and putting together a pair of productive at-bats. Burnt Orange Beat takes a look at Texas' 3-1 victory over Army, which placed the 'Horns in the winner's bracket of the Austin Regional.

Hitting a baseball is often said to be the toughest thing to do in all of sports.

Just don't tell that to Cole Green.

The Texas Longhorns' hurler pitched—and hit—his way to victory on Friday evening, as UT defeated Army, 3-1, in its Austin Regional opener.

Green was forced into the lineup after a scary moment in the first inning.

First baseman Brandon Belt was drilled with a pitch near the back of his batting helmet, causing a laceration of his right ear. He was taken to the hospital for precautionary evaluation but is expected to play again this weekend.

The pitch clearly wasn't intentional, and Army starter Matt Fouch says the ball slipped out of his hand.

"We gave him two curveballs in a row and wanted to go inside on him," said Fouch, who surrendered just three runs in seven innings. "It was pretty hot out there and my hands were sweating. I did not mean to go in that far, but it slipped, went up there, and got him."

The Longhorns immediately knew they had a problem, because they don't have a true backup first baseman.

Preston Clark, the only other player with experience at the position, began the game as a designated hitter. When he moved to first base on Friday, Texas lost its designated hitter, causing the pitcher to be inserted into the lineup.

On the mound, Green got through his first three innings without a problem. Relying on his sinker, he retired nine of the ten hitters he faced, getting six groundouts and three strikeouts.

"When you have a guy who's competing in the [strike] zone early and you're anxious, you're going to get a lot of first pitch outs," Army coach Joe Sottolano said of the first few innings. "That's something we really haven't done a lot of this year. We came out of the gate a little bit overly aggressive, and [Green] did a great job of using that to his advantage."

Texas second baseman Travis Tucker led off the bottom of the third inning with a walk, bringing Green to the plate for his first-ever collegiate at-bat.

Green laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt on the first pitch he saw, moving Tucker to second base.

As the pitcher headed back to the dugout, the UFCU Disch-Falk Field crowd of 6,832 gave him a standing ovation. When he disappeared into the dugout, they gave him a curtain call.

Two batters later, Cameron Rupp singled to centerfield, and the Longhorns had a 1-0 lead.

The Longhorns used the bunting game again in the fourth, after Preston Clark and Kevin Keyes reached base to begin the inning. Tant Shepherd moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, and then Connor Rowe laid down an RBI sac bunt, allowing Clark to come home.

The two runs was all the Texas pitching staff would need.

Green began to mix in his slider and changeup during the second and third time through the order. While he didn't get as many ground balls later in the game, he continued to retire hitters. In the end, he had surrendered just one run on four hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out six.

He also did more to help himself out at the plate. The sophomore pitcher got his second—and final—plate appearance when he led off the fifth inning. Green got down in the count 1-2 before he ripped a line-drive single into left field.

Longhorns coach Augie Garrido often says that—in the game of baseball—once you try, you fail. Green says he wasn't really doing either at the plate.

"I didn't really think about anything and just tried to compete and do what we're told," Green said of his at-bats, as Garrido nodded.

Garrido thinks his team could learn a thing or two from Green's overall performance.

"Cole proved that this game is really not that difficult," he said. "You throw it over the plate and strike people out. You give them one run. You give them four hits. You lay down a perfect bunt after not practicing. He walks up with two strikes and hits a single to left. Nothing to it."

The Black Knights of Army battled throughout the night, playing outstanding defense and holding the Longhorns offense to just three runs. But thanks to Green and closer Austin Wood, who picked up his 15th save after tossing two scoreless innings, it wasn't enough.

Garrido was just happy to have Cole Green on his side on Friday night.

"If it hadn't been for the magic of Cole Green," he said, "this could have been a different game altogether."

The Longhorns advance to the winner's bracket of the Austin Regional, where they will face Boston College at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Army will play an elimination game against the Texas State Bobcats at noon on Saturday.

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