Kendal Carrillo

Baseball

Texas' Jordan Etier flies safely into first base in the third inning. Etier was the catalyst for an explosive offensive night, as the junior second baseman went 3-for-4, including a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns staved off elimination yet again Saturday night with their 5-1 win over Arizona State in the Austin Super Regional. Mark Payton scored the winning run in the sixth inning for Texas and Jordan Etier slapped a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning for insurance.

Cole Green (8-3) pitched five solid innings for Texas and picked up the win. The senior struck out four and gave up only one run.

“I had a lot of focus and intensity,” Green said. “I just tried to stick with what I know, which is to throw the ball down in the zone and be aggressive.”

Texas got on the board in the third inning when Payton hit a sacrifice fly to center left field that scored Tant Shepherd, who led the inning off with a walk. Payton didn’t record a hit during the game, but walked twice and scored a run to go along with the RBI.

The Longhorns added another run in the sixth inning that turned out to be the game-winner. Payton led off with a walk and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Brandon Loy, who moved into a tie for fourth on the NCAA career list with 55 sac bunts. Erich Weiss then doubled to send Payton home.

The Sun Devils answered in the bottom of the sixth with a run of their own on a sacrifice fly from Joey DeMichele that scored Deven Marrero. Arizona State began the inning with two consecutive singles that forced Green to leave the game, but left-hander Hoby Milner came in and limited the damage for the Longhorns.

Texas got into more trouble in the seventh inning after Xorge Carrillo led off with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Zack MacPhee. Kendal Carrillo came in for Texas and struck out pinch-hitter Andy Workman, and then Andrew McKirahan entered to record the final out. Johnny Ruettiger hit a single to Etier at second base, and Etier tried to throw him out at first but was late. As Etier threw to first, Carrillo rounded third base and was streaking toward home plate when Tant Shepherd fired home a throw that catcher Jacob Felts barely held onto as Carrillo crashed into him. Garrido said they hadn’t practiced that throw once the entire season.

“It was a great play,” he said. “There were some really outstanding defensive plays from both teams.”

Etier proved his worth again in the ninth inning by hitting a home run into the Longhorns’ bullpen. The junior finished the day 3-for-4, a vast improvement from his 0-for-2 performance on Friday.

“I had to reboot it and refocus,” Etier said. “I had to take it as another day and get out there and compete with the challenges.”

The home run was Etier’s second of the season. He hit his first on March 8 against UTSA, which was also the first for the team.

“I am particularly pleased with [Etier], he had a rough night last night,” Garrido said. “He was motivated by the problem and did a great job tonight.”

Corey Knebel came in the eighth inning and picked up his 18th save of the season, moving him within one of the Texas single-season record.

Clean-up duty turned into a triage situation for Texas reliever Corey Knebel on Tuesday night at Disch-Falk Field.

Knebel (1-1) came on in the eighth with UTSA rallying, but gave up just one hit in 3.2 innings for his first collegiate win as fifth-ranked Texas triumphed 8-5.

“It feels great,” the right-handed pitcher said. “I was just expecting to get a save there.”

The Longhorns (8-4) got out to an early lead, gaining a five-run advantage by the end of the third inning. They didn’t score again until the 11th, but it came on a walk-off, three-run homer by Tant Shepherd that delivered the victory.

It was Shepherd’s first hit of the night, a blast over the left-field wall and into the UTSA bullpen. He went 1-for-5 but saved his best performance for late.

“That’s a ball player,” said Texas coach Augie Garrido. “In his last at-bat he was more determined by his failures.”

The Roadrunners (6-9) tied the game with a five-run eighth inning. Texas set-up man Stayton Thomas allowed two runners on, both of whom later scored on fielding errors. Then Kendal Carrillo allowed two more to reach base.

Finally, Knebel showed up with a ground-rule double against his first batter tied the score at 5-5 but the inning ended on the next batter.

Afterward, starting in the ninth, Knebel struck out six of the remaining nine batters.

“It kind of hurt, but I just came out the next inning with the same mindset, throwing strikes,” he said about recovering from the two runs scored on him in the eighth.

Starting Texas pitcher Cole Green did his part, bouncing back from a two-inning performance versus Stanford on Saturday to pitch four scoreless innings against UTSA. He struck out nine, including consecutive hitless innings in the third and fourth.

“I had fun today, it was an awesome game,” Green said. “I definitely felt more comfortable. I was able to throw it where I wanted and was able to get ahead of hitters.”

Texas left 12 runners stranded but continued to get into scoring position by stealing eight bases. It was up to Knebel to keep the game manageable for Texas in the extra innings. He struck out two in the 10th and then retired all three Roadrunners in order in the 11th. Garrido planned to replace Knebel in the 12th with Holby Milner but never got the chance.

“Corey was outstanding,” Garrido said. “He brought the game back under control for our side.”

UTSA cycled through five pitchers as the Longhorns got ahead early. D.D. Towler started but was pulled after giving up five runs. Reliever Kevin Clarke kept the Roadrunners in it with nearly four scoreless innings and five strikeouts but picked up the loss when Shepherd homered off him in the final inning.