HOUSTON — Texas righthander Nathan Thornhill tied a career high with seven strikeouts in seven innings, leaving the Aggies in the lurch in the NCAA baseball tournament.
In front of a Reckling Park-record crowd of 6,603, Texas scored early and often, cruising to an 8-1 victory in the Houston regional.
Thornhill allowed a leadoff walk in the second, and A&M’s Jace Statum drove in a run with an RBI single later in the inning. But Thornhill (7-2) settled down and blew threw the next five innings, striking out four of five batters at one point.
When Thornhill got Ryan Burk to fly out and end the seventh inning, the first person out of the Texas dugout to greet him was the injured Dillon Peters. The left-handed Peters was scheduled to start against A&M until sidelined by elbow stiffness earlier in the week. It’s unclear if he’ll need surgery, but Peters will not play this postseason.
The second-seeded Longhorns (39-18) now await the winner of the Rice-George Mason game. The third-seeded Aggies (33-25) are now facing elimination and will meet the Rice-George Mason loser on Saturday.
Friday’s game was the first time Texas and Texas A&M had met in a major men’s sport since the two schools went separate ways in 2012. A capacity crowd packed the grandstands, the general admission stands down the foul lines and the grassy knoll in left and center fields.
They watched the Longhorns take a 2-0 lead in the first when Brooks Marlow hit a solo home run and Mark Payton followed with an RBI single. The Longhorns then scored four in the third off Aggies starter Daniel Mengden, who lasted only 2 1/3 innings for his shortest outing since April 12.
Given a six-run lead, Thornhill just had to relax and throw strikes, which he did. Thornhill threw 66 strikes in his 117 pitches.
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