It looked like Texas had it all wrapped up. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Longhorns sent lock-down closer Randy Boone to the mound with a 4-2 lead.
But a two-run homer from Wake Forest's Brett Linnenkohl in his first career pinch hit sent the game into extras. It was a demoralizing blow to the Longhorns, but Texas head coach Augie Garrido, with thick beads of sweat glistening on his face in the lights of the interview room after an emotional ballgame, said he was proud of how his team battled back in extras.
“When something dramatic happens like what happened to us, you usually lose that game,” said Garrido. “We found a way to survive.”
Each team's closer stayed on in extras and there wasn't a run scored by either side all the way to the twelfth when Texas put up three runs on a two-RBI double from Bradley Suttle and an RBI double from Russell Moldenhaur.
Outside of the one pitch that Linnenkohl sent out of the park, it was a decent performance from Boone. The Texas closer went two and a third innings pitched with one earned run on three hits, no walks and one strikeout, officially getting the win and moving his record to 5-6.
Austin Wood, Texas' projected starter for the night game, came on for the Horns in the bottom of the twelfth. Wake Forest loaded the bases on Wood, but the Longhorn lefty struck out Wake Forest pinch hitter Micheal Murry to end the game and give Texas the win on his first save of the season.
Garrido said he'll start Wood against UC Irvine, despite the sophomore's outing in the first half of Texas' double-header.
“We're going beyond our normal pitching roles,” said Garrido. “We'll see whether or not I made good decisions or bad decisions.”
In the bottom of the first, it was an unfortunate, but rather appropriate, end to Nick People's career at the University of Texas.
In the bottom of the first, with one out on the board, Wake Forest shortstop Dustin Hood hit a ball into left-center which would have fallen in for a base hit if not for a spectacular diving catch from Peoples to get the out. The Texas senior suffered a broken left clavicle (collarbone), ending his final season with the Horns on a key defensive play, his trademark at the University.
James Russell got the start for Texas. The junior left-hander had struggled as of late and, just as he had against Brown on Friday, Russell was faced with a jam in the top of the fourth. This time Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson had seen enough and brought in reliever Joseph Krebs with two outs and two runners in scoring position.
“We got out of him (Russell) what we thought we could,” said Garrido, simply. “We'll see where it takes us.”
Krebs got Wake Forest right fielder Evan Ocheltree to pop out and end the threat, giving Russell a very solid final line of no earned runs on one hit with three strikeouts and one walk in three and two-thirds innings pitched.
Texas put up the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth on homerun from Moldenhaur. His deep, towering solo shot over the right field wall went over the bullpen, over the berm and over the sidewalk, landing in the Austin Park Fun Zone (roughly 450 feet from home plate).
In between the top and bottom of the fourth, the assembled Texas faithful gave a standing ovation for Nick Peoples as he walked with the Texas trainers back to the Longhorn dugout with his left arm tightly wrapped.
The Horns grabbed another run in the top of the fifth on an RBI double from Wheeless and then took a 4-0 lead on a two-RBI single from Bradley Suttle.
Wake Forest finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth with solo homerun from third baseman Tyler Smith, but Krebs then ended the inning for Texas by striking out DH Weldon Woodall.
Both pitching staffs preformed well, for most of the game anyway, keeping the scored locked at 4-1 Texas. That is, of course, until the bottom of the ninth.
The Demon Deacons put up their second run in the bottom of the ninth with second baseman Andy Goff's two-out RBI single. Boone then came to the mound to close out the game, but Linnenkohl's homer took it to extras, where Texas finally picked up the win in the twelfth.
The Horns are still alive, but with one more loss, Texas will be ousted from its own Regional for the second consecutive season. Texas will take on UC Irvine at 6 p.m. The Longhorns fell 3-1 to the Anteaters on Saturday and if they pick up the win, they'll need to win again against UC Irvine to advance to the Super Regional.