No. 2 Texas stays alive with CWS win over No. 3 Tennessee

By Zach Smith, Special to the Katy Times
Posted 7/1/21

University of Texas Baseball isn’t dead yet.

Freshman reliever Tanner Witt tossed 5.2 scoreless innings as the No. 2 Longhorns outlasted No. 3 Tennessee 8-4 Tuesday …

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No. 2 Texas stays alive with CWS win over No. 3 Tennessee

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University of Texas Baseball isn’t dead yet.

Freshman reliever Tanner Witt tossed 5.2 scoreless innings as the No. 2 Longhorns outlasted No. 3 Tennessee 8-4 Tuesday afternoon to stay alive at the College World Series in Omaha.

“The work they’ve put in from day one came out,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “You have to be able to trust it and understand that if you continue to be frustrated, you're not going to be able to play well. It was a mature approach.”

Mississippi State rallied to beat Virginia 6-5 in the winners’ bracket, setting up another elimination game between the Longhorns and Cavaliers Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Texas didn’t panic despite 21 strikeouts in its CWS-opening loss to the Bulldogs.

Starter Tristan Stevens gave up four runs on six hits with three walks and one strikeout in 3.1 innings on Tuesday.

Eric Kennedy finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Cam Williams and Silas Ardoin each finished with two RBIs, while Mike Antico finished with three hits and stole his 40th base of the season.

“We had a team meeting to just kind of clear our minds and kind of put that game behind us,” Kennedy said. “Coming out and taking batting practice on the field today, you could tell everybody was super focused and ready to go.”

The Longhorns’ defense was on point on Tuesday as they turned a pair of clutch double plays to get out of jams in the third and fourth innings.

Things boiled over for the Volunteers in the fourth inning when assistant coach Ross Kivett was ejected for slamming his fist on the Tennessee dugout. He then tossed his binder onto the field and started to argue with the umpires.

“We held our composure when things were getting emotional,” Pierce said. “Our guys were doing a nice job of allowing that to happen, not get caught up in it and just play the game.”

Tennessee scored a pair of runs in the second inning, but Texas answered, with three runs in the bottom half of the inning on a three-run homer by Kennedy. Williams drove in Antico in the third inning.

The Volunteers tied things up with two runs in the fourth. Once again, the Longhorns answered with back-to-back RBI singles from Ardoin and Williams. Kennedy scored on a wild pitch in the sixth.

“We were ready for any situation,” Kennedy said. “We don’t want it to be easy, and we were ready for whatever Tennessee had for us. They’re a great ball club, and we kept our heads down and kept grinding out at-bats.”

Pete Hansen (9-1, 1.50 ERA) will likely start for Texas Thursday night against Virginia.

Once the Longhorns get into a rhythm, they can be hard to beat. They lost the first three games of the regular season, but eventually rattled off 14 straight wins and claimed a share of the Big 12 title.

The young team is looking to find some similar form in Omaha.

“The first few at-bats were eye-opening for all of us with the huge crowd and great environment,” Kennedy said. “Once we got settled down like we showed today, we get back to doing what we do.”

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