UT, Simmons Blank Bucknell 7-0 In Regional Opener

UT, Simmons Blank Bucknell 7-0 In Regional Opener

It&#146;s too soon to chant &quot;O-ma-ha&quot; but the No. 6 Texas (44-17) baseball team opened NCAA Regional play with a 7-0 win over Bucknell (27-15) behind a solid outing from starting pitcher <B>Justin Simmons </B>at Disch-Falk Field Friday. The junior tossed the third complete-game shutout of his career to lead Texas into the winners bracket, against Lamar, 3 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier Friday, the Cardinals scored single runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to knock off Arkansas, 3-2, (34-21) in the opening-game. The loser of Saturday's Texas-Lamar game will face either the Razorbacks or Bucknell at 7 p.m.

For Simmons, the opener represented both his first shutout and first complete game of the season. An All-American with a 16-1 mark during last year’s national championship run, Simmons has struggled to regain his 2002 form. On Friday, the junior tossed a four-hitter and fanned five to even his mark at 5-5.

"Simmons has been a big game pitcher for us," Augie Garrido said. "He has been very effective in the last two games. Coming into this game, he pitched tonight like he did in the Big 12’s and has been throwing the ball well. With tonight’s game being his 10th start, he is still throwing at a high level."

The Horns scored six of their runs with two out and had six of their seven hits go for extra bases. Dustin Majewski, who entered the game with a team-leading .392 batting average, paced the offense with a home run and a double in three at bats to go along with three runs scored. Eric Sultemeier drove in two runs and scored two more behind a pair of hits while Joe Ferin extended his hitting streak to a team-best 18 games with his fourth home run of the season.

Texas quickly took the early lead in the bottom of the first when Sultemeier delivered his ninth homer of the year over the left center field wall to plate Majewski and to score all the runs the home team would need at 2-0. Two innings later, Majewski connected on a solo round-tripper with two away to put Texas up 3-0. Ferin’s solo shot, plus an unearned run, pushed the advantage to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth.

Simmons retired nine in a row heading into the bottom of the fifth when Seth Johnston tripled home a pair of runs to complete the scoring at 7-0. Both squads put runners on base during the final four frames, but Simmons allowed only two hits during that span and then retired the side in the top of the ninth to close out the win.

Starting pitcher Kevin Miller took the loss for Bucknell after throwing seven innings and striking out three.

With an enrollment of 3,550, Bucknell (Lewisburg, PA) has fewer students than some UT English classes. The Bison advanced to their third-ever NCAA Regional by claiming the Patriot League tournament.

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