OMAHA, Neb. — No matter what happens in the College World Series finals, it’ll be tough for Texas to top this finish.
Connor Rowe hit a game-winning solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, moments after Cameron Rupp tied it with a homer of his own as the Longhorns came from behind to beat Arizona State 4-3 on Friday night.
Rowe sent a shot into the left-field seats, then sprinted around the bases with his helmet raised in his right hand as his celebrating teammates waited at home plate to greet him.
Two batters earlier, Rupp homered over the 22-foot wall in straightaway center field to tie it.
“The two home runs were about as dramatic as you can get,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “We struck out 12 times, so they did a great job of pitching. But they got some balls up and we ran into them, and that changed the game. I feel blessed about it.”
So now a Texas team that won its first game on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth and its second game after rallying from six runs down will move to the CWS best-of-three championship series starting Monday against LSU. The Longhorns will try to become the first No. 1 national seed to win the title since Miami in 1999.
“They did a wonderful job of hitting in the clutch at the end,” Arizona State coach Pat Murphy said. “It was a great game for college baseball. We’re sorry we’re going home.”
Rowe, who batted in the No. 9 spot, hit the first walkoff homer in Omaha since Texas’ Chance Wheeless did it in a win over Baylor in 2005.
It looked as if the Sun Devils (51-14) would force a Saturday rematch for the Bracket 2 championship after they took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth on Zach Wilson’s RBI triple.
Mitchell Lambson (9-5) struck out Brandon Loy to start the bottom of the ninth, but Rupp tied it with a homer that carried at least 420 feet, one of the longest in recent CWS memory.
“When I hit it,” Rupp said, “I knew it was gone.”
After Preston Clark popped out, Rowe hit the first offering from Lambson over the left-field wall, well above the leaping Kole Calhoun.
“As time passes, this is probably going to be a game to watch on TV and recap and say I was glad to be a part of it,” Calhoun said. “But right now, this one hurts.”
LSU 14, Arkansas 5
OMAHA, Neb. — LSU hit four home runs and ace right-hander Anthony Ranaudo threw six solid innings as LSU eliminated Arkansas and advanced to next week’s College World Series finals.
The Tigers, who have hit nine homers in three CWS games and 102 overall, homered in three straight innings to break open a game that started 2½ hours late because of rain.
Blake Dean, Jared Mitchell, Ryan Schimpf and Tyler Hanover all homered for LSU (54-16), which has won 13 straight and will play for its sixth national title and first since 2000.
Arkansas (41-24) was outscored 23-6 by LSU in two CWS games, and the Razorbacks lost four of five games overall against the Tigers this season. Ranaudo (11-3) allowed four hits and had five strikeouts.
Arkansas closer Stephen Richards (6-2), in his first start since April 2007, lasted two innings. He gave up four hits and four runs, two unearned.