Texas baseball’s season ends on stunning Stanford walk-off

Evan Vieth, Associate Sports Editor

A two-out pop-up to the outfield, the Longhorns were out of the inning. Texas was one out away from another chance at Omaha, yet after a series filled with home runs and spectacular plays, Stanford won game three in one of the most heartbreaking ways possible for Texas fans. 

With two outs and a runner on first, junior Lucas Gordon worked through his second inning of relief, giving Texas hope for an extra-inning victory. Gordon faced freshman catcher Malcolm Moore, whose clever eye worked his way into a 3-2 walk, setting up one of Stanford’s hottest hitters, junior shortstop Drew Bowser. Bowser, who had already homered three times in three games including earlier in the second inning, was the hope for the Cardinal faithful at Klein Field. 

Gordon’s first pitch, a ball. Gordon’s second, a beautiful changeup that Bowser swung right through. Texas fans were on their feet, cheering on their ace with Omaha on their minds. On the 1-1 count, Bowser skied the ball into the air, an outcome Texas fans dreamed of in the high-pressure situation. The play was the perfect end to an already intense nine innings. Until it dropped.

From the second the ball was hit, senior center fielder Eric Kennedy and junior right fielder Dylan Campbell never saw the ball. When it landed 15 feet away from Campbell’s feet, sinking into the ground deeper than the hearts of the Texas fans at home, Stanford was all celebration. Two batters earlier, the dugout cleared on what looked to be a walk-off home run that fell just short, hitting a white Pac-12 logo on the left field wall and tricking even the announcers. Two plays later, it was all celebration in Palo Alto.

The Stanford Super Regional ended with a 7-6 Stanford victory in game three, taking the series two to one and booking a ticket to the crown jewel of college baseball, Omaha. The series was as close and intense as a fan could ask for, with just four runs separating the teams over three games and a one-run walk-off win to send Stanford to Omaha. In a series that featured a three-run, ninth-inning comeback in game one and a 156-pitch, 16-strikeout complete game in game two, Texas fans will remember the dramatic ending of game three.

Though the Longhorns didn’t come out on top, many players stepped up for the Longhorns. Redshirt junior Zane Morehouse stepped up when starter Tanner Witt couldn’t make it out of the second inning, pitching six innings and giving up three runs against one of the best offenses in the country. Junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd played his best game as a Longhorn, hitting two doubles and knocking in three of Texas’ six runs, including a rally starter in an eight-run comeback eighth inning. 

Though likely to be overshadowed by the dramatic ending, Campbell’s heroics for Texas in the past two Super regionals cannot be understated. The five-tool star knocked in the game-tying run in the eighth, and a half inning later, threw out a runner at third to end the inning on what may be the greatest throw in Texas baseball history. Body turned the opposite way, momentum pushing him toward first base, Campbell caught a fly ball, turned and launched a strike all the way to third. With one hop and a tag by redshirt junior third baseman Peyton Powell, Texas was fired up as their star outfielder bailed them out of a high-pressure situation. 

As the season ends for the Longhorns, it’s hard to be disappointed with how far they’ve come. From starting 3-6 and looking ready to rebuild all the way to one inning away from Omaha, it was a successful year for the young, brand-new roster. But the 2023 Texas baseball season will be remembered by the last play of the season: the ball that dropped.