By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
AUSTIN, Texas – The incredible, magical season of the No. 10 Tennessee Tech baseball came to a tough close Monday afternoon, as the No. 5 Texas Longhorns (42-21) defeated the Golden Eagles (53-12) in the NCAA's Austin Super Regional winner-take-all match-up to advance to Omaha and the College World Series.
Texas used four runs over the first three frames to jump out to an early lead it wouldn't relinquish, using six pitchers to hold the nation's top offense to just two runs and five hits in the contest.
The Golden Eagles got on the board in the fourth frame, cutting the deficit to three with an RBI single off the bat of senior third baseman Trevor Putzig. The four-year veteran drove in junior Kevin Strohschein, who led off the inning with a double to left center field.
Tech plated another in the sixth, with senior shortstop David Garza smashing a long, sacrifice fly ball to right center field to make it just a two-run deficit. The Longhorns responded with an unearned run on a Golden Eagle miscue in the bottom half, providing the final score of the contest.
The purple and gold nearly hushed the crowd of over 7,000 in the ninth. Garza led off with a single up the middle. After an out, senior Collin Harris drew a six-pitch walk to prompt the Longhorns' second pitching change of the frame. The new Texas hurler flashed an offering to junior second baseman John Ham, who launched a long fly ball to left field.
Texas' Mason Hibbeler tracked the ball all the way to the wall, making the catch for out No. 2 at about the 338-foot mark, just two feet shy of a game-tying long ball. Tech continued the rally despite the second out, with junior center field Alex Junior drawing a four-pitch free pass to load the bases.
After fighting off four straight pitches, senior backstop Brennon Kaleiwahea ripped a grounder to shortstop. David Hamilton picked it up and flung the ball to first for the final out and send the Longhorns to its 36th College World Series.
The Golden Eagles leave their mark as arguably the greatest baseball team in OVC history, establishing new league marks for wins (53), conference wins (27), winning-streak (28 straight) and home runs (135), just to name a few. The team also boasted a league-record eight selections in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Photo by Thomas Corhern