Dylan Campbell’s walk-off hit gives No. 9 Texas a 9-8 win over No. 8 East Carolina

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Dylan Campbell's walk-off hit gives No. 9 Texas a 9-8 win over No. 8 East Carolina

The 9th-seeded Texas Longhorns forced a third game in the Greenville Super Regional by making a remarkable comeback against the 8th-seeded East Carolina Pirates at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Saturday and winning in walk-off fashion when right fielder Dylan Campbell slammed a 1-2 fastball into the right field corner with loaded bases and two outs.

Texas was trailing East Carolina 6-2 after a fifth inning and 7-2 after the top half of the seventh inning. With just nine outs left, the sleeping bats finally woke for the Longhorns when midfielder Douglas Hodo III hit a double home run scored In the eighth round, Texas took the lead after a triple home run from third baseman Skyler Messinger and a solo shot from Campbell.

For the second game in a row, the Longhorns took the lead in the first inning. Left fielder Eric Kennedy hit left field with an out, stole second after first baseman Ivan Melendez popped out, and then hit with a single from second baseman Murphy Stehly. Another stolen base put Stehly in goal position, which he capitalized on due to a throwing error by East Carolina’s third baseman.

Texas left-hander Lucas Gordon avoided a single, a throwing error and a walk in the first inning and didn’t allow a run until a solo home run by East Carolina center fielder Bryson Worrell in the fourth inning. Gordon’s order faltered a bit after the home run as he went two batters but was able to score a strikeout late in the frame.

After two bad strike calls resulted in a stranded runner in the fourth inning for the Horns, Gordon found himself in trouble again in the fifth, allowing two singles. Then the Pirates loaded the bases when Messinger made only his fourth error of the season. Worrell came through again for East Carolina, scoring two runs with a double down the left field line and knocking Gordon out of the game in favor of right-hander Marcus Olivarez.

On the third pitch for right fielder Jacob Jenkins-Cowart, the East Carolina standout broke the game up with a three-run home run against Olivarez, who had only allowed one run to get into the game all season.

Olivarez also went a batter in the inning but was able to avoid further damage.

In the two innings after the Pirates took the lead, the Longhorns couldn’t get anything going on the plate as all six batters were sequentially eliminated.

Still dangerous, East Carolina welcomed left-hander Luke Harrison in the seventh inning with back-to-back 0-2 singles to put the runners in first and third place before getting a foulout and leaving when right-hander Tristan Stevens went in game came. On a wild pitch, Jenkins-Cowart was declared safe on the home review after originally being called out, and the runner initially advanced to second. After allowing a walk, Stevens was pulled and right-hander Andre Duplantier got the call from the bullpen. Duplantier held the score 7-2 by scoring a double on his first-place finish.

The Horns were able to rally a two-out in the seventh. Shortstop Trey Faltine scored his first hit of the Super Regionals with a double off the wall in right field before Hodo managed to clear the wall in his at bat for a two-run home run.

Kennedy kept the rally going with a single, but Melendez couldn’t hold it when right-hander Trey Lesavage got his hands on a pitch and produced a groundout to shortstop.

But the total mount at the plate carried over into the eighth inning. Stehly singled on the first pitch he saw, and designated hitter Austin Todd hit a ball off the pitcher that squirted into right field, allowing Stehly to move into third place. On a 2-2 fastball, Messinger hit the game’s second home run in opposing field, a three-run shot to equalize.

The home run resulted in a call in the bullpen for East Carolina’s star relief Carter Spivey, who conceded three earned runs in 1.2 innings on Friday. Texas continued to look good on Spivey as right fielder Dylan Campbell hit his own home run in opposite field to give the Longhorns the lead again.

Hodo pulled off the third baseman’s glove to extend the inning and chased Spivey out of the game when Zach Agnos switched from shortstop to mound, but Agnos was able to pull the side back when Kennedy put a ball down the center right into the shift from East Carolina hit.

Looking for defense, Dupantier stayed in the game, grabbing a flyout into midfield to start the inning and knock out the next batter, but then allowed a game-defining home run from second baseman Jacob Starling with a grooved 2-1 fastball. A strikeout gave Texas a shot at the walkoff win and the Longhorns took advantage.

Melendez went into midfield to take the lead and then moved up to second after Mitchell Daly, a defensive back-up for Stehly in the ninth inning, made a sacrificial fervor. Todd pulled an intentional walk at a 3-0 count to put the runners in first and second place, but Messinger couldn’t get through again and jump out to the catcher in foul territory.

And now Sunday’s game will decide which team advances to the College World Series to take on the Knoxville Super Regional winner, with the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. Central on ESPN2.

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