June 12, 2010

Matt Rybaltowski
Special to the NCAA.com

AUSTIN, Texas - The ball rolled slowly down third, Jantzen Witte made a hard charge and threw to first in an attempts to help pitcher Steven Maxwell out of another jam.

It sailed to the left of a fully-stretched TCU first baseman Matt Curry and clanged against the Horned Frogs' dugout. With it, two runs scored and possibly the direction of the NCAA Division I Baseball Super Regional between the Horned Frogs and Lone Star state rival Texas.

Dominated by TCU pitching in Friday's Game 1 and held scoreless through the first 2 2/3 innings on Saturday, the floodgates opened for Texas in the middle innings of Game 2 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. The Longhorns scored 12 runs in three consecutive innings, including seven in the fifth and defeated TCU, 14-1, to tie the best-of-three series at one.

Texas, the tournament's No. 2 seeded team, loaded the bases in the top of the third and was poised to take its first lead of the series on a scorching liner by catcher Cameron Rupp. It was snagged by a leaping second baseman Jerome Pena, who flipped to Taylor Featherston and appeared to get the Horned Frogs out of the inning unscathed. But Longhorns first baseman Tant Shepherd beat the throw at second and the bases remained loaded with two outs. The count went to 3-2 against Kevin Keyes and the Longhorns got on the board on Witte's error. With Texas (50-12) ahead 2-0, Kevin Lusson, the next hitter, drove in two more with a double to the left-center gap.

"He had the runners going and Keyes runs pretty well for his size," TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "It's a tough play, but it's a play Jantzen (usually) makes. He just didn't get it up the line enough."

The Horned Frogs (50-12) were beset by errors throughout the afternoon. In the fourth, Brandon Loy advanced to second on a fielding error by Curry and scored on a single by Shepherd. Texas batted around in the fifth, an inning keyed on a wild pitch by relief pitcher Trent Appleby.

"Sometimes I wonder if college baseball isn't more about the imperfections than the perfections," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "The imperfections have so much to do with who wins or who loses."

Last year, Texas pitcher Taylor Jungmann eliminated TCU in Game 3 of the Super Regional with a sparkling two-hit, shutout performance over six innings. The Longhorns sophomore nearly replicated the performance by striking out nine and allowing six hits in 8 1/3 innings of work.

"I was just mixing pitches, Cameron called a great game today and the defense played well," Jungmann said.

While Garrido said his team drastically improved at managing the strike zone in comparison with Friday's 3-1 loss, Schlossnagle said his players chased pitches early, in particularly Jungmann's breaking ball out of the zone. Once the Longhorns began to quickly accumulate runs, Jungmann settled down and started throwing strikes with his off-speed pitches.

"The best thing for a breaking ball and control is a four or five run lead," Garrido said.

In Sunday's decisive Game 3 (4 p.m. EDT, ESPN), Texas will start junior Brandon Workman (12-1, 3.43 ERA) against TCU sophomore Kyle Winkler (11-1, 3.05 ERA). Schlossnagle said it is unlikely that freshman Matt Purke, who struck out 11 Texas hitters Friday, will pitch in relief. Texas closer Chance Ruffin (0.73 ERA) has yet to appear in the series.

"There's going to be nine battles (Sunday) and somebody is going to win the war," Garrido said. "It's going to be pretty exciting."