Texas baseball wins regional in Miami with chance to advance to College World Series

Evan Vieth and JT Bowen

“Hook ‘Em Horns, Texas to the Supers,” rang from the voice of commentator Roy Philpott on ESPN after Zane Morehouse’s electric strikeout to end the ninth inning, giving Texas the 10-6 win over the Miami Hurricanes and the opportunity to book a ticket to the Super Regionals. 

The Longhorns entered the Miami regional in a less than ideal position, having lost two straight games in their Big 12 tournament that likely cost them the home field advantage, but they didn’t let that shake them. Though they had to play in hostile territory against one of college baseball’s most successful programs, the Longhorns took care of business. 

Texas needed three wins to make it out of the regional bracket and into the Super Regional, where they would face the winner of the Stanford regional series. Texas faced Louisiana in its  first game and Miami twice afterwards, winning all three games over the three-day span. The story of Texas’ emphatic victories came from one of its biggest strengths: the pitching staff. 

On Friday against Louisiana, junior lefty Lucas Gordon tossed seven innings of just one run baseball, leading Texas to a 4-2 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Gordon struck out eight batters while junior right fielder Dylan Campbell added two RBIs to lead the Longhorns to victory, but the job was far from finished.

Entering Saturday’s matchup with a fresh opponent, Texas rode to victory for the second game in a row behind masterful pitching from its starter, as the Longhorns knocked off Miami on Saturday night 4-1 with nine full innings from Florida native Lebarron Johnson Jr. 

The redshirt sophomore was a bit slow to start, loading the bases in the first and second innings, but ultimately worked himself out of both jams in an eight strikeout, seven hit clinic. After a Miami home run in the bottom of the fourth, the Hurricanes’ sole run of the night, Johnson Jr. yielded just three hits.

Texas’ grit to enter the Hurricanes’ home turf and silence the crowd was encapsulated in a daunting scene during the third inning when Texas catcher Garret Guillemette took a pitch to the face and immediately collapsed to the ground. However, the junior popped up after less than a minute, pleading to take his base. The Longhorns ultimately opted to send Duplantier to pinch run, but Guillemette’s toughness set the tone, and Johnson Jr.’s work on the mound was able to take the Longhorns to the championship.

Entering Sunday, Texas was in need of just one more win to send itself to the next phase. In stepped redshirt sophomore and right hander Tanner Witt, whose injuries cost him a chance to pitch in last year’s postseason. For the first game of the series, however, the Longhorns couldn’t rely on their starter to win them the game. Witt surrendered a three-run bomb to junior shortstop Dominic Pitelli, and Texas head coach David Pierce had already seen enough, letting Witt finish the inning before replacing him with junior reliever Charlie Hurley in the third. Down 3-0, the Longhorn offense had to rally.

It didn’t take long for Texas to tie the game up, as just a half-inning later, a rally started by junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd gave the Longhorns an RBI single from redshirt junior third baseman Peyton Powell, adding two more points to the scoreboard and tying the game. This was followed by a single by Campbell, giving him his 38th straight game with a hit, now a Big 12 record and part of a long list of exceptional stats for the star across his most successful year as a Longhorn. 

After Campbell’s single, Guillemette drove the two runners in, and with a five-run inning already under their belt, freshman designated hitter Jalin Flores stepped into the box. On the first pitch of the at-bat, with the bases loaded, Flores launched a ball deep, hitting a grand slam and capping off one of Texas’ best innings of the season. The third gave Texas all the runs it needed to win the ball game, it was just up to the pitchers to finish it out. 

Hurley gave the Longhorns four and one-third innings of work before being replaced by Morehouse after a three-run home run, and as he did on Friday, Morehouse shut it down in Miami. The fireballer gave up just one hit and struck out seven of his eight outs, including the final batter of the entire regional.

Texas’ win catapulted the team into a promising spot, with potential to make it to the College World Series if they can grab a series win over their next opponent, which will either be Stanford or Texas A&M.