June 19, 2009

Game 12 Notes

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R & R for Longhorns in Omaha

Rupp and Rowe both homer in ninth for Texas victory


By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

OMAHA, Neb. – Maybe they are a team of destiny.


Cameron Rupp hit the tying homer to center with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Connor Rowe won it two batters later with a dinger to left as Texas rallied past Arizona State 4-3 Friday evening at the College World Series in front of 23,257 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium.


The top-seeded Longhorns (49-14-1) will face third-seeded LSU in a best-of-three series beginning Monday at 6 p.m. CT. The fifth-seeded Sun Devils finished the season 51-14.


“Wow! What a game!” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “The two home runs were about as dramatic as you can get. We were trying to lay off pitches in the bottom part of the strike zone. We got some balls up and we ran into them and it changed the game. 


ASU took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth. Jason Kipnis had an 11-pitch at-bat before reaching on an infield single off the glove of first baseman Brandon Belt and moving to second on a throwing error. With two outs, freshman Zach Wilson tripled the other way into the right field corner to drive in Kipnis.


“I was determined to get on base,” Kipnis said. “I just did whatever I could, battled off pitches. I finally put it in play and got on base.”


Mitchell Lambson had retired the side in the seventh and eighth with four strikeouts for the Sun Devils. He fanned Brandon Loy to start the ninth before Rupp crushed a 3-1 pitch over the second wall in dead center, his 11th home run, to tie the game at 3-3. Preston Clark fouled out to the catcher for the second out. Rowe deposited the next pitch into the seats in left, his seventh homer, to give Texas the 4-3 victory.


“I faced him three times,” Rowe said of Lambson, “and every time he kept throwing me change-up, change-up, change-up. I don’t think I saw one fastball from him. I was definitely sitting on a change-up and that’s what I got. Luckily it worked out.”


ASU got on the board in the top of the third. Kipnis had a one-out single up the middle. Kipnis was running when Carlos Ramirez hit a grounder that shortstop Loy fielded and tried to flip to second baseman Travis Tucker, but the throw got away and Kipnis moved to third. Kole Calhoun had a base hit to right center to plate Kipnis with the game’s first run.


Michael Torres quickly tied it with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the frame, his fifth, to make it 1-1.


ASU reclaimed the lead in the fourth. With two outs, Zack MacPhee blooped a ball toward the line in shallow left that fell for a double when the left fielder and shortstop both slipped. Drew Maggi had a single up the middle to bring in MacPhee and give the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead.


The Longhorns again drew even in the fifth. Rowe had a leadoff double down the left field line and was sacrificed to third by Torres. Tucker had a base hit up the middle to bring home Rowe and tie the score at 2-2.


Texas starter Cole Green went six innings with eight hits, two earned runs, three walks and six strikeouts. Austin Wood (6-1) worked the final three frames with three hits, one run, no walks and two strikeouts to earn the victory.


Starting on two days rest, Mike Leake also pitched six innings for the Sun Devils with eight hits and two earned runs.


“When we won [Thursday], I wanted the ball,” Leake said. “I wanted to be the one to take us into [Saturday]. During the game I was just trying to make my pitches, that’s all I could really do. I made a couple mistakes and paid for them. I just had team in mind and tried to make pitches, not trying to do it all myself.”


Leake walked one and struck out seven.


“He pitched well enough to win,” ASU head coach Pat Murphy said. “He put us in position to win.”


Lamsbon (9-5) allowed two hits in 2.2 innings in absorbing the loss with no walks and five strikeouts.


Tucker, Rupp and Rowe each finished with two hits for Texas.


Calhoun had three hits for the Sun Devils, while Kipnis and Matt Newman both added two hits.


“It was a pretty tough one,” Murphy said. “The credit goes to Texas. They did a wonderful job of hitting in the clutch at the end. It was a great game for college baseball. We’re sorry we’re going home.”


Four of the eight post-season wins for the Longhorns have come in their final at-bat, including three walk-off wins. Texas received a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth in its opening-round CWS win over Southern Miss, 7-6. The Longhorns scored eight in the bottom of the ninth, including a game-winning grand slam by Preston Clark, to defeat Army 14-10 to win the Austin Regional.