June 9, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - For a record 30th time in program history the University of Texas is heading to Omaha, NE for the College World Series. The Horns swept Florida State (54-13-1) at the 2003 Tallahassee Super Regional closing out the series with a 6-5 win Monday night. Texas (48-18) has now earned the right to defend its 2002 national title and will open CWS play with 2001 national champion Miami.
"It was a championship type of game out there tonight and both teams battled hard. I felt like both teams had the potential to win a national championship," said UT head coach Augie Garrido. "I feel bad about their injuries and it made it seem like it just wasn't meant to be for them. I feel honored about playing in the national championship tournament this weekend."
The heart of the Texas order was the key to Monday night's UT win. The Horns' 4-5-6 hitters went 6 for 10 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Texas continued to take advantage of two-out opportunities as the Horns scored three of their six runs with two down in the frame. The Longhorns scored four runs with two outs in their game one win.
All-American closer Huston Street picked up his second save of the Super Regional and his 14th save of the season as the sophomore pitched two innings in relief. After throwing 79 pitches Sunday, Street needed just 28 pitches to add to his school record with 28 career saves. Brent Cox (6-0) picked up the win pitching three innings of middle relief.
"Goodness sakes, (Huston) Street needs to have a street named after him," said FSU head coach Mike Martin. "What a warrior he is, what a great display of competitiveness. But our guys, I just can't say enough about the heart of each and every one of them."
The Seminoles got off to a quick start versus 2002 All-American Justin Simmons. The southpaw was victimized by a defense that committed an error and also had trouble tracking down a ball in the outfield and the FSU hitters took advantage. Blake Balkcom's triple was followed by an error as the Seminoles broke out to a 1-0 lead. Florida State then recorded another hit off Simmons but couldn't plate a second run as the junior worked his way out of the jam.
For the second consecutive inning, the FSU offense touched up Simmons. Chris Hart started the top of the second with the Tribe's first homer of the Super Regional. The senior's fourth HR of the year was also the first round-tripper off the Texas pitching staff in the 2003 NCAA postseason.
The Longhorns evened the game in the home half of the second playing classic Augie Garrido baseball. A lead-off bunt single was followed by an infield single and a sacrifice bunt putting runners on second and third with no outs. A walk loaded the bases before Seminole starter Matt Lynch (13-4) induced a grounder that resulted in a force out at home. Just as they did in the opener, Texas came through again with two outs. Street drew a walk on four straight pitches to make it a 2-1 game and lead-off hitter Tim Moss was plunked on the foot driving in the Horns' second run of the night.
Texas didn't need a two-out rally in the bottom of the third to take the team's first lead of the game. After 2003 All-American Dustin Majewski almost went yard on a ball hit to the wall in straight away center, outfielder Eric Sultemeier reached on a bloop single. The Longhorns then showed they were equally adept at playing long ball as they were playing small ball as its next two hitters went yard. Catcher Taylor Teagarden, the Big 12 freshman of the year, hit a two-run shot and was followed by Curtis Thigpen who left the park for the sixth time in 2003. With UT in front 5-2, Lynch was removed from the game after he ruptured a blister on his throwing hand.
"I thought it was fine and that inning, when I came out, it felt kind of weird. Then the last pitch I threw, it kind of cut on me and I looked and I felt the skin rip," said Lynch. "They came out and cut it off and I tried to keep going, but the skin underneath it was so sensitive, it just stung like crazy." Florida State staged a comeback of its own in the top of the fourth as they turned the tables on Texas with a two-out rally of its own. A walk to Jerrod Brown set the stage for Bryan Zech's two-out RBI double cutting the Texas lead to two runs.
Texas, looking to try and get out of Tallahassee in two games, replaced Simmons in the fifth with freshman J. Brent Cox. The first year pitcher looked to be cruising as he retired the first two hitters but another two-out RBI, a homer by catcher Tony Richie, once again brought FSU back within two runs. For the first time all day, neither Florida State nor Texas scored a run in an inning as both teams went quietly in the sixth with UT holding onto its 6-4 lead. The drought didn't last long though as FSU ended the game's scoreless inning streak at one and closed the gap to 6-5. Tony McQuade, who doubled to right, came home to score on Richie's two-out RBI single. It was the catcher's third RBI of the game as he improved to 4 for 8 in the series.
With the Seminoles within a run, UT brought in All-American closer Street to try and wrap the game up. The sophomore needed just 10 pitches to retire FSU in order on two strikeouts and a ground out.
Texas was unable to pad its lead in the bottom of the eighth as the Horns moved into the ninth with a one-run lead and just three outs away from a trip back to Omaha, NE to defend their title. It took Street just six pitches to record the first two outs before issuing a walk to Tony McQuade. That brought Balkcom to the plate who hadn't recorded a hit since his triple in the first. The junior lined a shot into left putting runners on first and second for Richie. The senior was unable to reprise the role of hero as he grounded out to Street ending the comeback bid.