The Texas Longhorns avoided elimination in the College World Series for a second straight game, defeating previously unbeaten Vanderbilt 4-0 on Friday and forcing a deciding game between the same two teams on Saturday. The winner of Saturday’s rematch will advance to the CWS championship series against either Ole Miss or No. 3-ranked Virginia.
Texas ace Nathan Thornhill was virtually unhittable in going eight innings and allowing no runs and just five hits, all singles. The Longhorns (48-20) scored all four of their runs in the first two innings, and the rest of the night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha belonged to Thornhill.
Vanderbilt starting pitcher Tyler Ferguson didn’t even make it out of the first inning. Ferguson hit two batters and walked two. The Longhorns scored twice on just one hit thanks to the free passes issued by Ferguson. Vanderbilt was never in the game after the opening inning.
Texas recorded its second consecutive shutout in this year’s College World Series, the first team since Oregon State in 2006 to win back-to-back CWS games by a shutout. The Longhorns knocked UC Irvine out of the CWS with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday. The 4-0 shutout over Vanderbilt also was Texas’ 10 shutout in the College World Series all-time.
Longhorn pithing has been superb in the CWS. Thornhill, Chad Hollingsworth and Parker French combined have allowed just three earned runs and have an outstanding 0.87 ERA. As a full staff, Texas pitchers have allowed just four runs in Texas’ four World Series games in the past week. Moreover, the Longhorns have held their CWS opponents scoreless in 34 of 36 innings.
In the last two Longhorn games, UC Irvine and Vanderbilt were unable to get a runner past second base.
“It was a dominating performance (by starter Nathan Thornhill),” said Texas coach Augie Garrido in the postgame press briefing. “I do think they were trying to run his pitch count up because of the heat to get him out of the game. He has the kind of command where he can capitalize on something like that.”
These same two teams will go at each other again on Saturday night. The winner moves on to play in a best-two-of-three championship series that begins on Monday night. The loser goes home,
Texas has given up only one run in its three elimination games since losing its CWS opener 3-1 to UC Irvine. Vanderbilt will be facing elimination on Saturday for the first time in the 2014 College World Series. Advantage Texas.