On Saturday, the No. 2-seed Texas Longhorns fell to the No. 7-seed Mississippi State Bulldogs in an elimination game that determined who would advance to the College World Series final against the Vanderbilt Commodores this week. This loss caps off an unforgettable season for the Horns, who had a 50-win season and won a share of the Big 12 Regular Season Championship towards the end of May. It is clear that the Horns exceeded everyone’s expectations over what kind of team head coach David Pierce would be taking to the mound in his fifth season as the team skipper.
2021 got off to a rocky start for the Texas Longhorns, dropping three straight in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas against three SEC teams-Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss to open the season. Pierce took heavy criticism from the media, only to see his team go on an absolute tear down the home stretch for the rest of the season. His critics in the media were noticeably quieter after that.
The month of April saw the Texas Longhorns go undefeated against Kansas, Kansas State, Abilene Christian, Nevada, and Stephen F. Austin, save for two losses: the series rubber match at Oklahoma State on April 25th and the first leg of the three-game series against Texas Tech at home, followed by another loss the following day on May 1st. The month of May proved to be the most challenging for the Horns, as they dropped a series lead against Texas Tech, TCU, and tied the four-game series against West Virginia two games apiece. Then came the Big 12 tournament, which saw them lose to West Virginia yet again, only to face Oklahoma in the elimination game. Then they advanced to face West Virginia a third time this season and win the double-elimination game against them, only to lose the final elimination game against Oklahoma State and get knocked out of the Big 12 tournament.
The Texas Longhorns performed well enough to earn the right to host a Regional heading into the NCAA tournament, cruising past Southern University, Arizona State, and Fairfield to advance into the Super Regional versus South Florida, where after squeaking past them 4 runs to 3 in the first leg, the Horns were able to best the Bulls 12-4 in the second leg to punch their ticket to Omaha and advance to the College World Series.
Heading into Omaha, all of Texas’s opponents, with the sole exception of Virginia, were SEC teams: Tennessee and (once again) Mississippi State. The Horns dropped their CWS opener versus Mississippi State, forcing an elimination game against the loser of Tennessee vs. Virginia (which in that case was the former). After beating Tennessee in a highly contested elimination game with an intense atmosphere to accompany it, they went on to beat Virginia in the double-elimination for a rematch against Mississippi State. The Longhorns managed to beat Mississippi State by a score of 8 runs to 5, especially off the heels of an Ivan Melendez three-run homer to put the Horns on top at the top of the ninth inning to force another elimination game on Saturday. This time, in a closely contested matchup that saw the Horns take the early lead 2 to nothing at the top of the 2nd with a Cam Williams blast deep down right field with Melendez in scoring position. The only other time the Horns scored was when graduate transfer outfielder Mike Antico doubled a fly ball to left-center field and allowed Doug Hodo III to score the go-ahead run to extend the lead. The Horns never saw another run again, and Mississippi State managed to score two unanswered runs in the 5th and 6th innings, tying the score up three apiece. The game-winning score came at the bottom of the 9th inning off a Texas pitching error, ending the Longhorns’ improbable run for the 2021 College World Series championship. And so, the Horns ended their season the same way they began: with a loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs at a neutral site.
Through it all, we here at The Texas Horn would like to congratulate the 2021 Texas Longhorns baseball team for shattering preseason expectations and recapturing some of the program’s former glory throughout the course of this entire season. It was a wild ride, and while it was not the result Longhorn Nation hoped for, everyone from us at the Horn to fans across the state and country could not be prouder of this team. The future is bright for the boys in burnt orange on the diamond at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, and make no mistake, this program will continue to do what it said it would do this season: Own the Disch!
Daniel Villalva is the Former Copy Editor for The Texas Horn. He is 23 years old and originally from Houston, Texas. Daniel is a Sport Management major here at UT Austin, and he enjoys writing for The Texas Horn because it is a tremendous gateway to disseminate his thoughts and opinions on topics such as sports, politics, and history. Some of his hobbies include talking about those things and especially watching sports on TV.