Of course Texas second baseman Brooks Marlow was motivated by moving a step closer to winning the NCAA baseball Rice Regional, but he had a second reason for begin exciting after driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning early Sunday morning.
“Even better is that we get to sleep in,” he said. “I look at it like that. There’s two teams, great baseball, and we just to came out with a win and showed how much fight we have in our stomachs.”
Texas downed Rice 3-2 in a game that ended at 1:12 a.m. this morning. Marlow and his Longhorns don’t have to play again until 7 p.m. Sunday. Rice (42-19) faces Texas A&M in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Sunday. The winner plays Texas. If the Longhorns lose Sunday evening, a winner-take-all game will be played Monday.
The Rice-Texas game didn’t get underway until 9:45 p.m. because of rain and a late ending to the preceding game, an Aggies 7-3 victory over George Mason.
With Blake Fox and Parker French on the hill, runs figured to be in scarce commodity. Rice got one early when John Clay Reeves singled home Skyler Ewing in the second inning.
Fox allowed three hits in the first five innings and only one of those runners got into scoring position. Texas (40-18) broke through to tie the game in the sixth inning when clean-up hitter Tres Barrera doubled home Mark Payton.
The Owls went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth. Shane Hoelscher singled, moved to second on Michael Aquino’s bunt and came in on Ewing’s double.
Fox came out to pitch the eighth but was removed after Payton’s double to start the inning. Trevor Teykl came out of the bullpen. The first batter he faced, Barrera, singled. Payton held at third, but scored the tying run two batters later on a C.J. Hinojosa sacrifice fly.
Texas coach Augie Garrido turned the ball over to John Curtis in the bottom of the eighth. The closer was masterful, getting out all 12 Owls hitters he faced in innings 8 through 11.
“Curtis mixed his pitches well, and he gave us a run for our money,“ Ewing said. “We didn’t take advantage of the pitches that we could hit, but that’s baseball.”
Zech Lemond pitched Rice out of jam in the 9th inning and Jon Duplantier took over in the 10th. Texas No. 9 hitter Zane Gurwitz doubled to start the top of the 11th for Texas. Milner followed with his fourth hit of the game, bringing home Gurwitz.
“I was looking for a ball middle-in, and I know the first pitch he kind of threw at me was a little inside,” Marlow said “I took it for a ball, and then with a runner on second and no outs, I was trying to hit something to the right side or elevate something to the right side. I was just looking for that one pitch. I thought he was going to throw a curveball, and he didn’t. I got a good piece of him and drove in the run.”
The Owls are now 0-3 against Texas this season. They lost to Texas A&M 6-5 on April 22 in the only meeting this season with the Aggies (34-25).
“We have had adversities the whole season,” Reeves said. “It’s nothing new to us. I think for us it’s one of those times where our backs are against the wall yet again, and we have to take advantage of tomorrow. We’ve been down and out quite a few times this year, battling through a lot of injuries as a team. For us we have one goal all season, which is to come out and play for these seniors."