On Saturday, the Longhorns and Vanderbilt engaged in a thrilling elimination game – the fourth such game Texas had been in in the past week in the 2014 edition of the CWS – that went into extra innings before Vandy pulled out a 4-3 victory.
Texas, which has made more appearances (35) and won more College World Series games (85) than any other school, lost to UC Irvine in the opening game of this year’s CWS. That put the Horns behind the eight ball right from the start in the final stage of the NCAA Baseball Championship. In order to stay alive and avoid elimination, Texas had to defeat Louisville, UC Irvine in a rematch and Vanderbilt twice to make it to the championship final best-of-three series.
The Longhorns came up a couple of runs short of successfully making it through that difficult gauntlet and advancing all the way to the championship series. I’m not sure how many teams have done something like that after losing their first game in the CWS, but I can assure you there have not been many, if any.
Facing its third consecutive elimination game on Friday night, Texas left no doubt behind a brilliant pitching performance from its ace Nathan Thornhill. The Longhorns shut out Vanderbilt, which had been 2-0 in the CWS, setting up the winner-take-all deciding game between the same two teams on Saturday.
Texas’ season ends with a 46-21 overall record and the best finish by a Big 12 school in the College World Series since the Longhorns won it all, defeating Florida for the national championship in 2005.
Some notables and quotables from the Longhorns’ semifinal run in this year’s CWS:
- The game-winning RBI by Vanderbilt’s Tyler Campbell on an infield hit in the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday was just his third RBI all season.
- Texas starter Parker French lasted only two full innings innings against Vanderbilt. In his previous CWS start, he pitched into the seventh inning against Louisville, holding the Cardinals to one run on just four hits in a 4-1 Texas victory.
- Vanderbilt freshman reliever Hayden Stone came on for starter Carson Fulmer with the bases loaded and one out for Texas in the top of the fifth. He got the first batter he faced to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Longhorns had tied the game 3-3 in that inning, but it was the final time they would threaten the rest of the game.
- Through the first five innings against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Texas left seven runners stranded, six in scoring position.
- The first three hitters in the Texas lineup (Brooks Marlow, Madison and Mark Payton) were 0 for 13 on Saturday night, Vanderbilt’s top three in the order had six hits in 14 at bats.
- Shortstop C.J. Hinojosa was 15 for 40 in five College World Series games for a .375 batting average. He was the only Longhorn player who had a hit in all five games.
- Texas was three for 14 with runners on base in the 2014 College World Series, and seven of the 10 runners left stranded were in scoring position.
- Texas head coach Augie Garrido on his team’s performance in 2014:
“This team is the best team since 2005 at the University of Texas, in my opinion,” Garrido said in his postgame press briefing after Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt. “They’ll never want to finish second again, and I think it will help them later on. To go all in, take the risks it takes, to be the best, because they’ve experienced it. And they no longer fear failure, because it isn’t failure when you do your best, and they did that…
“Once the grieving stops, then they need to recognize clearly what they’ve won. And they’ve won a hell of a lot more than they’ve lost.”
- Texas senior Mark Payton finished his outstanding college career reaching base in 105 of his last 106 games.