Bases-loaded walk gives Texas 7-6 win over Southern Miss

Published 1:43 am Tuesday, June 16, 2009


AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Texas coach Augie Garrido often says baseball is a cruel game.

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Don’t the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles know it. Oh, how they know it.

Jonathan Johnston walked Brandon Loy on four pitches with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Texas a 7-6 win in the College World Series on Sunday night.

“It’s just the way baseball treats people sometimes. It’s a brutal game,” he said. “Being in this environment for the first time created some nerves that turned into fear and eventually was the demise of an otherwise courageous team.”

The Longhorns’ final three runs scored on bases-loaded walks. Of Texas’ last 11 batters, six walked and one was hit by a pitch.

“That’s a tough way to lose,” Southern Miss coach Corky Palmer said. “I’d rather have someone hit a grand slam.”

The Golden Eagles’ dismal pitching performance in their Omaha debut spoiled an otherwise gutty performance against the No. 1-seeded Longhorns. Of the 171 pitches thrown by five USM pitchers, just 94 were strikes. They walked nine.

“Our players played like I thought they would on the big stage. I thought there were no nerves and we handled everything well,” Palmer said. “We just didn’t throw strikes at the end. We really didn’t throw strikes all night long.”

Texas (47-14-1), in the CWS for a record 33rd time, moves on to a Tuesday game against Arizona State. Southern Miss (40-25) will try to stay alive against North Carolina in a Bracket 2 elimination game the same day.

The Longhorns got all they could handle against USM. They could never settle in against the Eagles, who came into the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 regional seed.

Southern Miss tied it at 6 in the top of the ninth on James Ewing’s single off Taylor Jungmann (9-3), who had taken over for a struggling Austin Wood. They couldn’t finish, though.

Palmer, who talked about his lack of pitching depth in the days before the CWS, realized his worst fears in the bottom of the ninth.

Johnston relieved Fields (2-1) with one out and runners on first and second. The side-arming Johnston struck out Tant Shepherd, but then he imploded. He threw only one strike on his final eight pitches.

When Johnston missed inside on the last pitch, the Longhorns rushed out of their dugout to greet Loy, his arms raised, after he touched first base.

Realizing Southern Miss was melting down, Garrido ordered Loy to take two strikes before swinging away.

Loy’s bat never left his shoulder.

Southern Miss rallied for three runs against Wood, the Longhorns’ star closer, in a crazy eighth inning in which the Eagles take a 5-4 lead.

Texas entered the eighth up by two runs after Russell Moldenhauer hit his first home run of the season to break a sixth-inning tie.

Wood came on after starter Cole Green gave up a leadoff double to pinch hitter Adam Doleac. Nick Smith, who pinch ran for Doleac, scored on a wild pitch after Taylor Walker’s infield single. Wood walked Ewing, and pinch hitter Brian Dozier reached on catcher’s interference to load the bases. It was the first catcher’s interference call at the CWS since 1981.

The tying run came home when Wood missed outside on a full count to Corey Stevens. The Eagles went ahead when Joey Archer grounded to third and Michael Torres bounced his throw home trying for the forceout. Catcher Cameron Rupp couldn’t hold on to the ball as Ewing slid in safely.

Texas loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth against Scott Copeland and Collin Cargill, with Cargill walking Brandon Loy to bring in the tying run. Fields came on to strike out Cameron Rupp, but then walked pinch hitter Kevin Lusson to make it 6-5 Texas.