The NCAA Austin Regional came to an end on Sunday night as the Texas Longhorns advanced to the Super Regionals for the second year in a row after defeating Air Force for the second time in three days, 10-1.
In the early game, Dylan Rogers was originally announced as the starting pitcher for Air Force, but he was a late scratch and Ryan Stohr took the mound instead. Louisiana Tech had no problems with the Falcons starter as they opened up an early lead and led 4-0 after the second inning, aided by a Taylor Young two-run home run to left-center field.
Air Force responded by getting on the board with two runs in the top of the third inning. Gabriel Garcia (3-for-5) hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to get the Falcons to within a run.
Trailing 5-4 in the sixth inning, Jorge Corona hit a solo home run to tie the game at five. The home run was Corona’s third of the weekend, including an inside-the-park grand slam on Friday night.
Jake Greiving hit the first of two home runs in the game in the seventh inning to once again give the Falcons a one run lead, 6-5. Steele Netterville tied the game at seven in the seventh inning on a solo home run for the Bulldogs.
Greiving hit his second home of the game in the top of the ninth inning, a two-run blast to give Air Force a 9-7 lead. Greiving was 3-for-5 in the game with three runs driven in.
CJ Dornak handled the final 2 ⅔ innings for Air Force on the mound and closed out the win for the second consecutive game.
The Air Force offense collected seventeen base hits in the contest, including a 3-for-4 outing by Sam Kulasingam and a 4-for-5 performance by Trayden Tamiya.
For Louisiana Tech, the loss meant the end of the season for head coach Lane Burroughs and his team. The Bulldogs finished 2022 with a 43-21 record.
The Air Force win set up a rematch of Friday’s Regional opener with Texas for Sunday evening.
The Longhorns got to bat first in the Sunday Regional Final. Ivan Melendez wasted no time in giving Texas the advantage when he hit a two-run home run with one out in the opening frame. The home run was the 30th of the year for Melendez, the first 30-homer season since Kris Bryant hit 31 for San Diego in 2013. The two-run spot also helped propel the Longhorns to a five run opening inning.
Dylan Campbell hit a home run for the second night in a row for the Longhorns, extending the Longhorn lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning. Campbell (2-for-3) added a solo home run in the eighth inning to give him three home runs on the weekend.
Texas patched together a pitching effort, using four pitchers on Sunday to take the Regional Final. The only run for Air Force came in the ninth inning when Braydon Altorfer led off the frame with a home run.
Texas head coach Daivd Pierce knew the value of the pitching effort he got from his team on Sunday night.
“Today, the story of the day was our pitching,” Pierce said. “They did a nice job of just piecing it together. That’s what we’re going to need. Just a super night.”
Campbell was asked after the game about the possibility of a home series next weekend and whether it matters to his teammates who they face next.
“Hopefully we can get a home game next weekend,” Campbell said. “We’re ready for whoever.”
A historic season came to an end for the Air Force Academy. The win by Air Force on Saturday night over Dallas Baptist was the first NCAA Regional win for the program since 1967. The early win on Sunday was the 32nd win of the year for the Falcons, which also establishes a new program record.
The Austin Regional ended to chants of U-S-A as Air Force and Texas took the field one last time.
Texas (45-19) advances to a Super Regional and they will have to wait until Monday to find out who they will face and where they will face them. East Carolina and Coastal Carolina will play a deciding game on Monday at 1 PM EST. The winner will face Texas next weekend with a trip to Omaha on the line. A victory by Coastal Carolina on Monday means a trip to Austin for the Super Regional, while a win by East Carolina means Austin travels to Greenville, North Carolina.