Horns Are Omaha Bound

The Longhorns coupled a great two hit, six inning start by freshman Taylor Jungmann with just enough key hits to top the TCU Horned Frogs in Austin Monday evening. The win sends the Longhorns to Omaha for the 33rd time in school history. Kevin Keyes led the bats with a homer and a double in four at-bats.

When the 2000s are all said and done, the Texas Longhorns may well prove to be college baseball's program of the decade.

Entering the 2009 campaign, coach Augie Garrido's club had racked up seven total conference championships [regular season and tournament], five College World Series appearances, and two National Championships.

Yet—somehow—not a single player on Texas' roster has ever played a game at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium.

That's about to change.

Texas defeated TCU, 5-2, on Monday night, giving the Longhorns their first College World Series appearance since 2005.

The seniors will get their opportunity to play in Omaha afterall.

Those upperclassmen have played a key role in Texas' success this season. Without a doubt, they wouldn't be where they are right now without the heroics of Austin Wood and Preston Clark last weekend.

But on Monday, it was the youngsters doing the heavy lifting for the ‘Horns.

Taylor Jungmann's outstanding performance helped lead the Longhorns to their NCAA-record 33rd College World Series appearance.

Jungmann—just a freshman—was outstanding all game, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing only two hits. He walked one and struck out five.

The right-hander says one of the keys to success was his ability to throw the breaking ball when he needed.

"I worked on [my curveball] all week with Skip," Jungmann said, "and I definitely had it working for me tonight. It helped me get ahead. I started guys off with curveballs and fastballs, and I was able to throw it for a strike."

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle, a former pitching coach, was impressed with the way Jungmann was able to climb the ladder with his fastball after setting hitters up with the breaking pitch.

"We felt like he was going to throw the fastball up, and that's a really hard pitch to lay off of," Schlossnagle said. "If you can get to it, you can hit it a long way. But he kept elevating that pitch and we didn't lay off it enough. He threw his breaking ball with a little more command than I think he has in the past, and that was the difference."

The Longhorns got a difficult challenge in facing TCU right-hander Tyler Lockwood, who was 7-2 with a 2.75 last season. A ground ball pitcher, Lockwood's game appeared to be well-suited for UFCU Disch-Falk Field's slow FieldTurf.

But in the first inning, Lockwood kept his sinker up in the zone and the Texas bats punished him.

By hitting for power, believe it or not.

After Michael Torres led off the Texas first with an infield single, Travis Tucker bunted him over to second.

And that's when the power came.

With the wind blowing out to centerfield for the third consecutive day, Brandon Belt hit a fly ball to center that just seemed to carry for days. The ball ended up all the way at the base of the wall, where TCU centerfielder Aaron Schultz was unable to make the play, and Texas had a 1-0 lead.

The ‘Horns expanded that lead when Russell Moldenhauer brought Belt home with a run-scoring groundout to second base.

Then right fielder Kevin Keyes topped it off by crushing a home run over the visiting bullpen in left field, and Texas led 3-0 after just one inning.

(AP Photo/Chris Carson)
Texas came into the game with just 12 triples and 38 home runs on the season. The power hitting wasn't exactly expected. But, as Augie Garrido says...

"Any time you think you don't have something," the Texas coach said, "that's exactly the thing that wins the game. Championships are decided always by the unexpected. And of course, Belt hits one off the centerfield fence and Keyes hits the back wall."

A freshman pitching in the biggest game of his life, Jungmann was able to calm down and feed off the offense's success. He was dominant after Texas got the lead, retiring 10 consecutive hitters and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He kept the Horned Frogs from gaining even an inch of momentum all game.

All weekend, Schlossnagle stressed that the bunting wasn't scoring runs for Texas—it was the clutch, two-out hitting.

In the fourth inning, the Longhorns showed more of that.

Keyes led off the frame with yet another extra-base hit—this time a double off the right field wall. He then advanced to third with nobody out after a passed ball.

After Brandon Loy grounded out and Preston Clark struck out, Keyes looked like he may be stranded at third. Until Cameron Rupp doubled to left field and Connor Rowe poked an RBI single into center, and Texas had a 5-0 lead.

With Jungmann on the mound and Austin Wood in the bullpen, the orange-clad Longhorns crowd seemed to sense that a trip to Omaha was imminent.

Texas turned to Austin Wood in the top of the seventh inning. He worked a scoreless frame in the seventh, but gave up one run in the eighth and exited the game having allowed one in the ninth.

Garrido turned to ace starting pitcher Chance Ruffin with one out, one man on, and a 5-2 lead in the top of the ninth.

He knew Ruffin would be able to handle the situation.

"[Ruffin] has that killer instinct when he's on the mound," Garrido said. "It takes that to finish these things when they're that important, so I trusted that in him."

Sure enough, Ruffin got the job done. He forced Chris Ellington to hit a popup to second base before striking out freshman Jason Coats to clinch the Super Regional.

When it was over, Ruffin tipped his cap to catcher Cameron Rupp and gave him a hug. Players rushed out of the bullpen and dugout to give each other a high five.

But as usual—unless they win the National Championship—there was no dogpiling.

"We save that for Omaha," said Wood. "It's tradition."

Garrido often talks about winning the six championships every season, which includes the two conference titles, a Regional championship, a Super Regional title, winning the bracket in Omaha, and the National Championship. So far, Texas has won four, and they'll have the opportunity to go for the final two.

Austin Wood is happy to be Omaha bound, but he isn't looking for a vacation.

"It's amazing," said Wood when asked about going to the CWS. "We're not done though. Like coach said, we've got more baseball to play."

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