HOUSTON -- Despite a solid pitching effort by Kenn Kasparek and Cole Green, the No. 19 Texas Longhorns dropped a 2-1 decision to the St. John’s Red Storm in NCAA Division I Baseball Championship regional action at Reckling Park.
With the score tied 1-1, St. John’s (42-14) scored an error-aided run in the top of the ninth inning for the decisive tally. Gino Matias grounded back to Green to leadoff the inning. Green bobbled the ball and recovered to throw to Brandon Belt on first, but the toss was muffed for an error. With one out, Brian Kemp singled to put runners on the corners and Jeff Grantham hit a grounder, but the Longhorns were unable to turn the inning-ending double play allowing Matias to score the go-ahead run.
Texas (37-21) manufactured a run in the home half of the second inning to draw first blood. With one out, Brandon Belt hit a ground-rule double down the leftfield line, moved to third on a groundout by Russell Moldenhauer and scored on an infield single by David Hernandez, staking the Horns to a 1-0 lead.
The Red Storm responded with an equalizer in the top of the third. Kasparek issued leadoff walks to Tim Morris and Kemp. Grantham put down a sacrifice bunt advancing runners to second and third and Carlos Del Rosario plated Morris with a groundout to second base, tying the game at 1-1.
Colin Lynch (4-1) earned the win in relief for St. John’s, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings, retiring all four batters he faced. Cole Green (3-6) was saddled with the loss despite pitching three solid innings of relief. He allowed one unearned run on two hits and one walk while striking out three.
Both starters put in solid efforts. Kasparek allowed one run, scattering four hits and five runs while striking out four over six innings. Scott Barnes yielded one run on six hits and one walk while striking out four over 7.2 innings.
The Red Storm’s Chris Anninos was the only player to log multiple hits, going 2-for-3.
The Longhorns will play either Rice or Sam Houston State in a 2 p.m. contest Saturday at Reckling Park.
TEXAS POSTGAME NOTES
HEAD COACH AUGIE GARRIDO
Opening Statement: We got beat 2-1 in a game that was played about the same by both teams. They capitalized on their opportunity in the ninth, we didn’t capitalize in the eighth or the fourth and that was the difference in the ball game.
On if the team was playing uptight: I thought their pitcher was very good. I didn’t feel like the team was uptight. We handled a lot of plays with rhythm and timing and I thought we were good. I didn’t sense in the dugout or by their body movements on the field or the way they went about things that they were uptight. I thought their pitcher was excellent. The game was about the same. If you really look at everything thing that happened we had runners on second and third in the fourth inning with one out and didn’t score, they had runners on first and third with one out and hit into a double play. Everything was almost identical all the way through. Same number of errors and whether you want to call it a quality game for one team and lousy game for the other team I think you have to call it the same kind of game for both teams. The difference ended up being one run. It’s very difficult of course, but that is still the difference. They capitalized on one opportunity, we had two opportunities and we failed to capitalize.
3B PRESTON CLARK
On what made St. John’s pitcher Scott Barnes so effective: He kept the ball down, around the knees; he had three quality pitches that he threw. He didn’t mix in his change up a lot but when he did it was a good quality pitch. He kept us off balance a little bit, but we barreled some balls up that went right to people and there isn’t anything you can do about that, that’s baseball. We have to let it go though. It’s going to hurt tonight, we don’t like losing. We have another game to play tomorrow and we have to come out with the same attitude of we’re the best team and I feel we have a chance to do that.
RF KYLE RUSSELL
On what the team has to do now: It’s not the end of the world. It’s not over with. If you think about it we’re in the regional. You have to lose two games to get out of here. I think we’re in a good position because our backs are against the wall, what are we going to do about it? It’s do-or-die now, and I’m fine. I think with the team that we have and the talent we have and knowing how we can play baseball we’re going to do alright. We’re going to fight as much as we possibly can. We fought hard today, you have to tip your hat to their pitcher because he was a darn good pitcher. Tomorrow is a brand new day and that’s the great thing about baseball you can start fresh, you can start new and hopefully get a win tomorrow.