AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Relying on strong pitching and sufficient hitting, Texas advanced to the College World Series.
Kody Clemens and DJ Petrinsky hit home runs, Matteo Bocchi was effective in a rare appearance as a starting pitcher, and Texas defeated Tennessee Tech 5-2 on Monday to secure one of eight spots in the CWS.
Texas (42-21), under second-year coach David Pierce, returns to the CWS for the first time since 2014.
“It feels awesome,” Pierce said. “We’re not always. A lot of times we’re ugly. But we just figure out how to keep playing. That’s what so special about this group.”
Texas took the super regional series by winning the last two games after losing the first on Saturday.
Clemens hit his 24th home run of the season — one less than the national leader Spencer Torkelson of Arizona State. Clemens has 11 home runs in his last 15 games.
The matchup of starting pitchers seemed to favor Tennessee Tech.
But left-hander Alex Hursey (8-5), the No. 3 starter for Tech (53-12), lasted just three innings, allowing four runs.
Pierce used his No. 3 starter, Blair Henley, in relief on Sunday. So Bocchi (4-1) made only his fourth start of the season and allowed one run in a season-high five innings. Nolan Kingham, the Game 1 starter on Saturday and the sixth pitcher for Texas on Monday, came on in the ninth, walking one to load the bases but inducing Brennon Kaleiwahea to ground out and end the game. Parker Joe Robinson pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for Texas.
Tech leads the nation with 135 home runs, but the Golden Eagles hit only one in the series. They also lead the nation in batting average but had just five hits on Monday, matching their season-low, after managing only three a day earlier, fewest since 2015.
“I am honestly amazed,” Tech coach Matt Bragga said. “I give credit to them. I think that they really pounded the strike zone. They went after us with fastballs. Our guys were a little late and that doesn’t happen very often with our guys.”
Ryan Reynolds, moved from sixth to ninth in the Texas batting order on Sunday after a 2-for-17 performance through his first four NCAA Tournament games, doubled home two runs in the second.
Clemens and Petrinsky hit solo home runs in the third to put Texas ahead 4-0. After Clemens hit home runs in the first two games, Bragga said he might walk him every time on Monday. Instead, he pitched to Clemens, who went 2 for 3.
“With nobody on I guess they tried to attack me,” Clemens said. “I got some pitches to hit.”
Texas will appear in the CWS for the 36th time, more than any other school. The Longhorns also have the most victories there, 85. Their six national championships, the last two won under the late coach Augie Garrido, who died in March, are tied for second most. Southern Cal has 12.
A GOLDEN ACHIEVEMENT
The Golden Eagles won five games in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, including two on the same day at host Mississippi to win the Oxford Regional. Before this year, they had only won four games in the tournament.
Tech junior Kevin Strohschein is an accomplished hitter who began the super regional with 18 home runs and a .386 batting average, ranking first and second on the team in those categories. But he went 1 for 11 against Texas with no homers. Before that, Strohschein was 3 for 21 at the Oxford Regional.