Longhorns struggle at plate, drop College World Series opener

Amsal Madhani

The Texas baseball team had scored double digit runs in four of their last five games heading into Omaha, Nebraska, but things took a sudden turn for the worse Sunday night when the Longhorns matched up with Mississippi State in their College World Series opener.

Texas struck out a record breaking 21 times against Will Bednar, Mississippi State’s sophomore pitcher, as the Bulldogs defeated the Longhorns 2-1. Texas is now set to face off against Tennessee on Tuesday in an elimination game.

“I thought both teams just pitched outstanding,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “Tough game offensively, … but all we can do is get ready to work tomorrow and get ready to play on Tuesday.”

Bednar made his presence felt on the mound from the beginning, starting the game off with a 1-2-3 inning in the first. Throughout three innings, Bednar had already recorded eight strikeouts and the Longhorn batters had no answer for him.

Texas’ redshirt sophomore and first-team All-American pitcher Ty Madden managed to match Bednar’s dominant performance throughout the first three innings, allowing just one hit and zero runs in that span. But he wasn’t able to stay that sharp for long.

The Bulldogs were finally able to get into a rhythm at the plate, recording two hits and two runs in the fourth inning, including a triple down the right field line which led to a score. Suddenly, the Longhorns were down 2-0 with no momentum at the plate. It seemed like the game was slipping away from Texas.

Down 2-0 heading into the ninth inning, the Longhorns attempted to make a last-second comeback in hopes of advancing to the winner’s bracket.

Redshirt senior outfielder Mike Antico, who was 0-for-3 at the plate coming into the ninth inning, answered Texas fans’ prayers as he opened the inning with a homer to cut Mississippi State’s lead to 2-1. Following the huge hit, the Longhorns recorded two outs and had one last chance to stay alive in this game.

Texas then managed to get two more runners into scoring position in hopes of saving the game with a miraculous comeback effort.

With the game on the line, redshirt freshman infielder Douglas Hodo III had the tough task of tying the game to keep the Longhorns alive. Hodo made contact, but ultimately grounded out and Texas’ rally was cut short.

The Longhorn’s batting crew came alive too late, as their ninth inning comeback effort wasn’t enough to make up for their struggles in the first eight innings. Despite suffering an opening game loss, Madden is still confident that Texas can rebound and go on a run in the loser’s bracket.

“(We have to) just keep believing in us,” Madden said. “We’ve done it all year. We’ve won in multiple ways. And, like I said, this team’s not done and we’re going to keep rolling. I still have faith in us, and you all should as well.”