June 2, 2008


Russell's homer helps Texas top St. John's


By Allen Brown

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Contributor


HOUSTON - In Game 5 of the Houston Regional at Reckling Park, UT’s Kyle Russell hit his third home run of the regional with a man on base in the seventh to give Texas a 4-1 lead and the Texas Longhorns (39-21) were able to survive a furious St. John’s two-out rally in the ninth to advance to the Regional Championship and eliminate the Red Storm (42-16) by the score of 4-3.

Russell’s home run came on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the seventh. The colossal blast high off of the scoreboard in right field gave the Horns the breathing room they would need to prevail.


“The game came down to a pitch outside of the strike zone,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “(He) got the ball up on a changeup where (Russell) could get the barrel on it and hit it out of the ballpark.”
St. John’s lefty Matt Tosoni gave the Red Storm an outstanding start and St. John’s lead 1-0 going into the sixth. However, in the sixth with one out, Brandon Belt’s RBI double into the right field corner followed by Preston Clark’s RBI single gave the Horns a 2-1 lead and spelled the end of the day for Tosoni.
Austin Wood (7-3) started for the Longhorns and pitched brilliantly. He went 8.2 innings, allowing eight hits and one walk. He also benefited from three crucial double plays, including one in the seventh and one in the eighth innings, turned by the Texas defense, which played well.


“We made some really good defensive plays,” Garrido said. “Our defense saved the game for us. Our defense has come a long way this season.”


“It makes it a lot easier to pitch when the defense is playing well,” Wood said.
The Longhorns sent Wood out to the mound in the bottom of the ninth with a 4-1 lead, hoping he could pitch a complete game and save all of their available arms for the next game. It appeared that Wood would complete the game after a sensational play on Brian Kemp’s hard hit grounder by UT third baseman Preston Clark for the second out.


 “Now looking back on how the inning finished, (that play) was a huge difference maker,” Garrido said.
With two outs and no one on base, both Chris Anninos and Greg Hopkins hit bouncers through the infield for singles and then Wood hit Tim Morris with a pitch to load the bases. Greg Del Rosario then flared a double down the right field line to make the game 4-3 and end the night for Wood.
UT’s Saturday starter, Chance Ruffin, then entered the game and after an intentional walk to load the bases, coaxed a ground ball to shortstop Gino Matias to end the game.

During his final at-bat, UT’s slugging left fielder Russell Moldenhauer suffered an injury to the patella in his knee which Coach Garrido indicated would keep him out of the rest of the regional.