AUSTIN, Texas - Six Texas pitchers, exceptional defense and offensive production combined to shut out the Kent State Golden Flashes 5-0 and advance the Horns to the NCAA Baseball Austin Super Regional next week.
Sam Stafford got the nod after starting the first game of the NCAA Baseball Austin Regional Friday night. He responded to pitching on short rest with 3.2 strong innings, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out five. The rest of the starting staff from this weekend's tournament was also called upon out of the bullpen. Hoby Milner (1.1 IP), Cole Green (1.0 IP) and Taylor Jungmann (1.0 IP) all pitched perfect relief, each adding a strikeout. Kendal Carrillo (6-1) earned the win after pitching 1.0 innings, allowing only one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Corey Knebel closed out the game pitching the ninth, only allowing one hit.
While the Longhorn arms limited Kent State (45-17) to five combined hits and two walks, the pitchers were helped with shining defensive efforts highlighted by a ninth inning diving catch by second baseman Jordan Etier. The Texas offense also kept clicking with 10 hits to mark its third straight game with double-digit base knocks.
Texas (47-16) pounced on the Golden Flashes in the first inning for the second straight game to open the scoring. Tant Shepherd led off the inning with a double to the leftfield wall. Mark Payton then reached on a bunt single, and a throwing error by Kent State third baseman Travis Shaw allowed Shepherd to race home ahead of the tag, putting the Horns up 1-0.
The Longhorns pushed across another run in the bottom of the third. Etier drew a leadoff walk before Shepherd bunted him over to second base. Payton then connected for a single to leftfield, plating Etier and extending the lead to 2-0.
Texas added a run in the bottom of the sixth to push the lead to 3-0. Erich Weiss reached first after getting hit by a pitch from Kent State starter Ryan Mace. Paul Montalbano followed with a bunt to move Weiss into scoring position. Kevin Lusson drew a walk, prompting a call to the Golden Flashes bullpen. Justin Gill came in and proceeded to walk Jonathan Walsh to bring Jacob Felts up with the bases loaded. Felts drew good contact, sending a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield, bringing Weiss home.
The Horns struck again in the bottom of the seventh inning rallying with two outs. After knocking a single to leftfield, Brandon Loy stole second to put himself in scoring position. Weiss hit a single off the glove of a diving second baseman, allowing Loy to cross the plate and put Texas up 4-0.
Texas scored one more insurance run in the eighth inning to close out the scoring. Defensive substitute Cohl Walla smashed a one-out double to leftfield. After a Felts strikeout, Etier hit a sharp line drive off of pitcher Kyle McMillen, forcing him to make a throwing error trying to get Etier out at first and giving Walla home plate.
The Texas bats were paced by Weiss who hit 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Payton also logged a two-hit game, going 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Shaw led Kent State's offense with a 1-for-4 game, getting the only extra base hit of the day for the Golden Flashes.
Mace (5-3) started the game for Kent State, pitching 5.1 innings, scattering three runs off of six hits and two walks while striking out one. Gill, Kyle Hallock and McMillen combined to toss 2.2 innings out of the bullpen, allowing one earned run off of four hits with three strikeouts.
With the win, Texas advances to the NCAA Baseball Austin Super Regional against Arizona State at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Dates and game times will be announced by the NCAA later this evening.
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