If the Texas offense was the perfect storm, the Hurricane defense was a washout. The blotter of Miami vices included five errors leading to eight unearned runs and 11 extra bags, plus a CWS record five hit batsmen (3B/P Huston Street got pegged on consecutive at bats).
All totaled, Texas placed 27 runners on base but none hotter than 1B Curtis Thigpen who went 4-for-4 and reached base on all six at-bats. In fact, the only Longhorn in the rotation who neither reached base nor registered a hit was the, uh, designated hitter, J.D. Reininger. (To be fair, he was just about the only Longhorn not hit by a pitch. Yes, the Hurricanes were that pitiful.)
"We capitalized on a couple of errors and sustained rallies pretty well and sustained focus throughout the game," head coach Augie Garrido said during the post-game press conference. "What got lost during the runs and all that went on was the quality of the pitching. It was an offensive display that we normally don’t put on. There is a lot of potential on this team; they’re capable of all things. That offensive display doesn’t come as a surprise but it does come as a relief."
Sophomore pitcher J.P. Howell (10-2) was credited with the win after fanning eight, walking three and scattering six hits during six innings of work. J. Brent Cox, Sam LeCure and Josh Smith combined for three innings of scoreless relief. Meanwhile, Miami ace J.D. Cockroft (10-3) was pulled in the bottom of the fourth after the second-team All-American surrendered a career-worst 10 runs on 10 hits (82 pitches). It was the shortest stint of his 16 starts this season.
Second baseman Tim Moss opened the game with a leadoff double down the left field line. Two outs later, and a portend of things to come, third baseman Gaby Sanchez’s throwing error scored Moss.
Texas’ hit parade was at full throttle an inning later in a frame that saw 11 batters respond with five hits and two home runs while Miami damaged its cause with two errors. After hitting Thigpen with a pitch, Cockroft failed to field a Joe Ferin ball hit up the middle. That put runners on first and second with no outs. Texas bats tend to come alive, though, only after two outs are recorded. Street’s deep fly into right field advanced Thigpen after Reininger fouled out. Sanchez again mishandled a fieldable ball (albeit a hard hit shot from Moss), scoring Thigpen. (At this juncture, Texas had two unearned runs on two Sanchez errors.)
That’s when Texas rubbed salt into Miami wounds. Instead of three outs, SS Omar Quintanilla’s three-run homer over right field gave the Horns all the runs they would need at 5-0.
"It was the start of our getting the momentum," Garrido said. "Eric’s (Sultemeier) home run was also terrific."
Indeed, after OF Dustin Majewski singled to center field, Sultemeier delivered his tenth round-tripper of the year to give Texas a 7-0 advantage at the end of two.
The Hurricanes plated a run when C Erick San Pedro’s shot to left field scored Sanchez from third, making it a 7-1 contest. The ‘Canes scratched across another run in the next frame, making it a 7-2 contest (in which every run scored came with two outs) heading into the top of the fourth.
Texas answered with Taylor Teagarden’s two-RBI triple down the right field line, plating Sultemeier and Majewski. Thigpen then singled up the middle, scoring Teagarden.
Street stole second in the top of the fifth, having reached when he took one for the team. Majewski went yard, driving in his 83rd run of year to make it an 11-2 laugher.
Thigpen walked in the top of the sixth, and advanced to third following a failed pickoff attempt. Reininger plated Thigpen when he flew out to left field. Texas made it 13-2 one inning later when K Dusty Magnum missed a PAT…uh, make that consecutive triples from Majewski and Sultemeier and, finally Thigpen’s RBI single to left field.
The anticipated pitcher’s dual that never saw the light of day Saturday could materialize against Rice. The Owls have arguably the deepest staff in college baseball. Look for either Wayne Townsend (11-1) or Phillip Umber (10-3) to take the mound for Rice while Texas will counter with Justin Simmons (last year’s ace at 16-1, but 5-5 in 2003) and Street (8-0, and more saves than God) in relief.