Texas rallies past Georgia
OMAHA, Neb. — Carson Kainer, the last regular player in Texas’ lineup without a hit at the College World Series, got the most important one of his young career, and the Longhorns advanced to the finals.
Kainer doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Huston Street pitched three innings of one-run relief to help Texas to a 7-6 comeback victory over Georgia on Wednesday.
“Championships are won by the unexpected,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “We did what it took at the right time, with Carson getting his first hit.”
The Longhorns (58-13) will face either South Carolina or Cal State Fullerton in the best-of-three championship series that starts Saturday. South Carolina beat Fullerton, 5-3, last night, and those teams will play again today. The winner moves into the finals.
Texas will be playing for its sixth national title and second in three years.
Georgia (45-23) was eliminated, losing twice to top-seeded Texas.
“They’re a championship ballclub that continues to answer everything their opponent brings at them,” Bulldogs coach David Perno said.
The Longhorns’ rally marked the first time in the CWS that a team had come back from five runs down to win since Stanford erased an eight-run deficit to beat Tulane in 2001.
“I believe that’s the 27th time we’ve come from behind to win,” Garrido said, “so it wasn’t our first rodeo.”
Street (6-1) prevailed in a matchup against another top reliever, Will Startup. Street allowed four hits in three innings.
The Longhorns, who trailed 5-0 in the third inning, used two doubles to take the lead in the seventh. Dooley Prince led off with the first, chasing reliever Matt Woods (2-3).
Startup, the All-Southeastern Conference closer, came on and one out before Kainer doubled down the left-field line for his first hit in 10 at-bats.
“That was a good place to get it,” the freshman All-America said.
Texas hit four home runs.
Georgia sent 10 batters to the plate in the third, scoring five runs.
Georgia tied it 6-6 against Street, who was the CWS’ Most Outstanding Player as a freshman in 2002.
Jason Fletcher and Chad Blackwell combined to hold Fullerton hitless over the last five innings. Bryan Triplett homered and drove in the go-ahead run for South Carolina (53-16), which forced a rematch with the Titans (44-22).
Fletcher (6-1) went six innings and allowed all five Fullerton hits. Fletcher and Blackwell combined to retire 16 of the last 17 batters after Ronnie Prettyman’s bunt single in the fourth inning.
Blackwell earned his nation-leading 20th save.
Mike Martinez (8-3) took the loss after allowing five runs and 11 hits in 61/3 innings.
Felipe Garcia’s two-run double in the first inning gave Fullerton the lead, but South Carolina scored in the second on Brendan Winn’s RBI single and went ahead 3-2 in the third on Triplett’s two-run homer.
The Titans tied it at 3 in the fourth after Sergio Pedroza walked and took third on P.J. Pilittere’s single. Pedroza came home on Prettyman’s squeeze bunt.
The Gamecocks took the lead in the seventh inning. Davy Gregg bunted and reached third when Martinez threw wildly to first after going to his knees to field the ball.
Triplett followed with a tiebreaking single between third and shortstop, and Steve Pearce added a run with an RBI single.
A South Carolina win on Thursday would set up a rematch of its 2002 CWS final against Texas. The Gamecocks have been national runners-up three times, but have never won a title.
Fullerton hopes to play for its fourth national title. The Titans’ titles in 1979, ’84 and ’95 came under Garrido.