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|GAME AT A
Point: Trailing 6-0, Texas got the first two runners on in the fourth against Mike Leake. Cameron Rupp got a 2-0 pitch and hit it out to right field for a three-run homer, getting the Longhorns instantly back in the game. Leake recorded only one more out as Texas’ comeback was on.
OMAHA—Texas trailed Arizona State 6-0 after three innings, and the Sun Devils had first-team All-American Mike Leake—the nation’s wins leader with 16—on the mound.
In those first three innings, Texas’ hitters had struck out five times and hit into a double play. Defensively, the Longhorns had a passed ball and an error, while Arizona State had two home runs. It was a forgettable performance.
So in a between-innings meeting in the dugout, coach Augie Garrido told his team to do just that. Forget it. What’s done is done; what his players had control over was the rest of the game.
That’s no easy thing to do, but the Longhorns made it look that way. After the meeting, Texas rallied, knocking out Leake with a six-run fourth and scoring the game’s final 10 runs. Freshman righthander Taylor Jungmann held Arizona State scoreless over the final 5 2/3 innings as the Longhorns completed a 10-6 victory to improve to 2-0 at the College World Series.
“You can’t worry about what you can’t control,” Garrido said, echoing a coaching cliche before expanding on it. “Those three innings were done. They already happened. That’s what I told the team. We were playing like the ‘Bad News Bears’ out there. I had to remind them that there’s a pretty good team inside those uniforms, and that even the ‘Bad News Bears’ were pretty good by the end of the season.”
It didn’t even take a half-inning for Texas to turn things around. Cameron Rupp hit a three-run homer three batters into the fourth, and Leake couldn’t stop the bleeding. He signaled that something wasn’t quite right in the second inning, when he dropped a routine throw on a 3-1 play at first base. In the fourth, he got only one out before exiting after Brandon Belt’s two-run, game-tying single.
“Coach called us in and told us that we could do it,” Rupp said of the comeback. “We had to compete and go play by play. We put everything behind us and moved on. He stayed calm; he just told us to put it all behind us.”
Garrido later added, “You can’t get angry, man. If you get angry, you’ve sunk the ship, you’d be like a torpedo hitting broadside. My job is I have to help them have the mentality that they can win.”
Arizona State’s bullpen held Texas in check until the seventh, when Rupp struck again, this time with a solo homer to right to break the 6-6 tie and give Texas its first lead. Kevin Keyes and Brandon Loy got the key hits in a three-run eighth that gave the Longhorns a comfortable cushion.
Meanwhile, Jungmann was, in the words of his catcher, Rupp, “cruising.” He said he pitched mostly off his two-seam fastball, which he said was running and sinking well. Rupp, who called most of the pitches, also made use of Jungmann’s curveball and changeup as the freshman gave up just two hits and a walk while striking out six to improve to 10-3.
Arizona State coach Pat Murphy didn’t pick out a pitch of Jungmann’s that worked but marveled at his effectiveness nonetheless, especially considering how his Sun Devils had hammered Longhorns ace Chance Ruffin for seven hits and six runs (four earned) in two-plus innings.
“That Jungmann was outstanding,” he said. “He just pounded the zone with his fastball, pounded the zone.”
Arizona State fell into an elimination game Thursday against North Carolina, with Texas getting the winner Saturday. The Sun Devils used five pitchers Tuesday but should have plenty left in the tank from righthanders Jordan Swagerty (16 pitches) and Seth Blair (10 pitches), both of whom pitched Tuesday. Murphy didn’t name a starter but termed Blair’s outing as “disappointing” while expressing regret that Leake, who has meant so much to the Sun Devils this season and the last three overall, became the latest first-round pick to struggle on the Rosenblatt stage. (For more on Leake, click here.)
“When we were up 6-0, we kind of laid back,” said Arizona State outfielder Kole Calhoun, who had a homer among his three hits. “Maybe it was because we had Mike Leake on the mound with a six-run lead. He’s kind of carried us all year.”
On this night, he couldn’t do it again. It was Garrido’s meeting and the way his players responded to it that carried the day.