Seven hours and three minutes.
That's exactly how long it took for the Texas Longhorns and Boston College Eagles to decide a winner on Saturday night. And part of Sunday morning.
The Longhorns finally prevailed, 3-2, in the longest baseball game in NCAA history.
Texas took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning when right fielder Kevin Keyes deposited a two-run homer into the Texas bullpen. The round-tripper was his fifth of the year, and his first since the Longhorns played TCU on April 7.
Boston College tied the game by notching single runs in the fourth and sixth innings against UT starting pitcher Chance Ruffin.
After seven innings, both teams had gone to the bullpen.
And that's when the donuts came.
The two clubs went scoreless from the top of the seventh through the bottom of the 24th. That's 36 consecutive half-innings.
BC pinch-hitter Rob Darling walked to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. The bullpens then combined to sit down 29 hitters in a row, as the streak was snapped by Preston Clark's two-out double in the top of the 13th.
Clark actually had a four-hit day. In 11 at-bats.
The game included a number of remarkable events, but none more amazing than Austin Wood's performance.
Quite simply, Austin Wood turned in one of the best performances in UT baseball history.
The southpaw closer began his outing with 12.1 innings of hitless ball. Yes. The closer began with 12.1 hitless innings.
Wood ended up throwing 169 pitches, allowing two hits in 13 scoreless innings. He walked four and struck out a career-high 14 batters.
How did he pull off the magical performance?
"I have no idea," Wood said, with a smile. "I just tried to do my job and take it one pitch at a time. I can't explain it."
Sometime around the 16th inning—when Wood's outing was approaching nine innings—Texas head coach Augie Garrido and pitching coach Skip Johnson had a meeting in the dugout. They felt it may have been time to give Wood a rest.
He wouldn't let it happen.
"In the dugout, Skip and I were talking about him and whether he should come out or whether he shouldn't," said Garrido. "He walked by both of us and said, ‘I'm not coming out of this game.'"
When Wood eventually left the game—with one out in the 20th inning—he exited to a standing ovation from not only the Longhorns crowd, but also the entire Boston College team. A couple of the Eagles' players even bowed as Wood departed from the mound.
Wood's phenomenal 13-inning performance didn't factor in the decision, largely because Boston College closer Mike Belfiore practically matched his counterpart pitch-for-pitch. The lefty entered the game with 38.2 innings pitched on the season.
He went 9.2 shutout innings on Saturday, giving up three hits, walking none, and striking out 11. The junior threw 129 pitches. He also began the game at first base, ended it in left field, and went 1-for-9 at the plate.
"It was all based on adrenaline," Belfiore said. "It was one of the coolest things I've ever done. I've never really thrown that much in my life. I've always been a reliever. In front of that crowd, how could you not have adrenaline?"
The Longhorns turned to freshman reliever Austin Dicharry to get out of a jam in the 20th, and he was able to do so. The right-hander began his outing with 4.1 hitless innings. In all, he kept the Eagles off the board for 5.2 frames, giving up only one hit and striking out four.
Dicharry—along with the entire team—was able to feed off the raucous crowd of 7,104 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Most of the fans stuck around for the very last out of the game, which occurred at approximately 1:05 a.m.
"I was actually real excited that much of the crowd stayed around for the whole game," Dicharry remarked. "To have them behind our backs the whole time just gave me confidence and it gave the team confidence."
With the game's seventh hour fast approaching, Boston College coach Mik Aoki called on Mike Dennhardt—his seventh pitcher of the night—to work the top of the 25th.
The freshman walked Connor Rowe to lead off the inning. After David Hernandez sacrificed him to second, Rowe took third on a wild pitch.
Senior second baseman Travis Tucker followed by poking a single into right field, giving the Longhorns a 3-2 lead.
Tucker knew that one run was all they would need to win the game. He just wishes it hadn't taken 23 innings to get it.
"We knew that if we got that one on the board," Tucker said, "our pitching staff was going to close it down. You could tell we really felt that."
Now, Boston College must turn around and face Army in an elimination game at noon on Sunday. Getting the team refreshed and ready to play doesn't figure to be an easy task for Coach Aoki and his staff.
"As Bill Belichick would say, ‘it is what it is,'" Aoki said. "We've just got to turn it around. We've got a good pitcher starting that game tomorrow, so hopefully we can be back again at 6:00. Certainly Army is a formidable opponent, and we're going to have to sleep fast and see if we can't get it done."
Texas will play the winner of that Boston College/Army matchup at 6:00 p.m.
Austin Wood can't wait.
"I've gotta get ready for tomorrow," he said, with a straight face.
Longhorns Outlast Eagles In Epic Battle
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