After more than 100 years of facing off on the diamond, the Longhorns weren’t about to go quietly to Texas A&M.
Down 1-0 and heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Longhorns worked a two-run comeback to avoid a sweep and to take what is quite possibly the final game for a long time in this historic series.
“It was incredible, I had chills running down my spine,” said Jordan Etier. “I couldn’t ask for a better feeling than the one I had right there.”
The rally started with a single into center field off the bat of Erich Weiss. Then Jonathan Walsh worked A&M closer Kyle Martin to a full count and singled into right field. Walsh was due in that situation, as he had come up all day with long, tough at bats and nothing to show for it.
The hit got the sellout Texas crowd on its feet for the first time all game, and the fight song echoed throughout the stadium.
Alex Silver, in typical Augie Garrido fashion, dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third.
Catcher Jacob Felts came up next, and he continued his hot day at the plate by sending the first pitch he saw up the middle for his third hit of the game. The single scored Weiss and moved Walsh to third.
In what could be considered a slightly poetic moment, Etier — the lone senior starter — was the one that sent A&M to the Southeastern Conference with a loss.
On the first pitch of the at bat, Etier chopped a ground ball right at the first baseman Tyler Naquin. He fielded it cleanly and came home with the ball attempting to throw Walsh, who was streaking home from third, out at the plate. The throw was on time, but Walsh hooked around the tag from A&M’s catcher for the game ending and rivalry-ending run.
“Jonathan [Walsh] running in and scoring was the best part of the game in my opinion,” Etier said. “He was hustling down the line and trying to win one for his boys. You have to tip your hat to him because he made an incredible slide and a great play.”
After Walsh slid in safely at home, the Texas bench exploded onto the field to celebrate. It ended up being a split dog pile between Walsh at home and Etier at first base.
This is not the way the Longhorns would normally celebrate after a regular season win, but it being the final game against rival A&M, the players decided they could make an exception.
“This means a lot with this being the last game against those guys,” Felts said. “This was great and is a huge confidence booster moving forward.”
The ninth inning continues to be a strength for this Texas team, as it seems that the Longhorns play their best baseball when they’re under pressure to close out a game or when their backs are against the wall, attempting a comeback.
“It’s just like a survival instinct knowing that your three outs away from the end of the game,” Felts said. “Everyone is just fighting to keep the game going.”
The will to not give up and fight back gave this team an incredible victory, but more importantly to the players it meant that the final game in the books between these two historic rivals will forever read: 2-1 Texas.
Printed on Monday, April 30, 2012 as: Texas slides past A&m in ninth inning