Jungmann pitches Texas into deciding game

OMAHA, Neb. - The Longhorns wanted to save their pitching staff on Tuesday, but most of all, they needed a victory. Taylor Jungmann did both for the 'Horns, as he tossed his first-career complete game, leading Texas to a 5-1 victory. Burnt Orange Beat's Jason Cole takes a look at the game.

Taylor Jungmann got his first experience of the CWS National Championship Series on Monday night, entering the game with a man on first and one out in the ninth inning.

He threw six pitches. All six were outside the strike zone.

Longhorns coach Augie Garrido gave Jungmann the quick hook on Monday, but he showed confidence in his pitcher by giving him the starting nod in Tuesday's game two.

Pitching with a clean slate, Jungmann, just a freshman, etched his name in the UT baseball record books, delivering a start for the ages.

Jungmann took the mound and tossed a 126-pitch complete game against the heavy-hitting LSU lineup, helping the ‘Horns earn a 5-1 victory and evening the best-of-three National Championship Series at one win apiece.

The win snapped LSU's 14-game winning streak.

More importantly, it puts the Longhorns just one victory away from their seventh National Championship.

As the night wore on, Jungmann gradually emerged as the story, but it all started with the offense.

The Texas bats seized the momentum from the start. Literally.

Going against right-hander Austin Ross, who entered the contest with a 6-7 record and an ERA north of 5.00, Longhorns leadoff hitter Michael Torres led off the game with a four-pitch walk.

Torres advanced to second on a throwing error from LSU catcher Micah Gibbs. The defensive miscue was the Tigers' first of the College World Series.

With a man on second and nobody out, two-hole hitter Travis Tucker bunted Torres to third.

Then Brandon Belt laced a single into right field, and Texas had an extremely quick 1-0 lead.

The Longhorns wouldn't look back.

After Jungmann held LSU scoreless in the first inning for the first time in five CWS games, the Texas offense went back to work.

Left fielder Preston Clark belted a solo home run to left field, giving the ‘Horns a 2-0 advantage.

Although Ross had surrendered just two runs in two innings, Tigers coach Paul Mainieri felt it was time for a change.

"He just wasn't on his game tonight," Mainieri said. "I just thought too many pitches were elevated. They were hitting a lot of balls hard. I thought they were very fortunate they only scored one run in each of the first two innings."

LSU gained some ground in the bottom of the second when they scored on an error from Texas shortstop Brandon Loy, making it a 2-1 game.

The Tigers lost that momentum when Mainieri called on left-hander Ryan Byrd, who entered the night with just 12 appearances, to pitch the third inning.

The coach went with his southpaw because the Longhorns had a pair of left-handers due up in the lineup, including the smoking hot Russell Moldenhauer.

As Moldenhauer stepped to the plate to face Byrd, the Boerne native was 0-for-0 with two walks against left-handed pitchers on the season.

Despite the lack of experience, Moldenhauer worked the count in his favor, and he launched a 3-1 pitch over the right-center field wall, helping maintain his 1.000 on-base percentage against southpaws this season.

Garrido believes the answer run was huge.

"The response was important because you want to try and win your inning," he said, "especially when you're the visitor so you maintain the same score."

He's also glad he kept Moldenhauer in the lineup this time.

"And I'll join about 350,000 Longhorn fans that wondered why I took him out yesterday."

A pair of doubles from Cameron Rupp and Connor Rowe, plus a run-scoring single off the bat of Clark, helped the ‘Horns extend their lead to 5-1 before the end of the third inning.

The UT bullpen didn't have much to do on Tuesday (AP Photo).
With a nice cushion, Garrido says Jungmann was able to settle in.

"It has been my feeling throughout the years," Garrido explained, "that the best thing for a pitcher's curveball is a four-run lead."

The Tigers had their best opportunity of the game when leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu began the bottom of the third with a triple off the right field fence.

However, while mixing in a walk, Jungmann got a soft infield lineout, a strikeout, and an inning-ending fielder's choice to end the threat, stranding runners on the corners.

Louisiana State relievers Nolan Cain and Daniel Bradshaw did all they could to keep their club in the game. The two hurlers combined for 6.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen.

But Jungmann was just too dominant.

"We shut them out for the last six innings," Mainieri said. "Unfortunately we gave up five runs early. Normally when you give up five runs, you can still come back and win the game. But their kid was just too good for us tonight."

Mainieri wasn't kidding.

The 6-foot-6 Jungmann appeared to pick up steam as the night went on. Before Micah Gibbs' leadoff single in the ninth inning, the pitcher hadn't allowed a base hit to the outfield since LeMahieu's triple in the third.

Following Gibbs, Jungmann faced centerfielder Mikie Mahtook. The Taylor, Tex., native reached back and climbed the ladder for the swinging strikeout on a 94 mph fastball. On his 115th pitch of the night.

In the end, Jungmann got out of the frame and finished off his first-career complete game. He surrendered just one unearned run on five hits, walking one and striking out nine.

"For me, it's just staying back," said Jungmann on the key to his performance. "I had a really good feel for the ball today. Rupp mixed the pitches in really well too."

The Tigers are undoubtedly one of the nation's best offensive ballclubs, and Mainieri has seen his team score runs in bunches this season. But on Tuesday, he was forced to watch an impressive pitching performance.

"It would've been nice to win tonight and obviously wrap it up," Mainieri said, "but the guy that pitched for them had something to say about our having to stay around one more day.

"He was really outstanding. You tip your hat to him. We just couldn't do much with him."

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