Rice, Texas advance in World Series

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2003

OMAHA, Neb. Working on a one-hitter through eight innings, Jeff Niemann ignored cramps in his legs and went out for the ninth.

But after giving up back-to-back home runs, the big Rice right-hander was just happy to walk away with the victory as the Owls held on to beat Southwest Missouri State 4-2 in the College World Series on Saturday.

''I wanted to have a no-hitter, and then I wanted to have a shutout,'' Niemann said. ''I didn't do that too well, I guess.''

David Aardsma came on in relief and got the last three outs after Greg Mathis and Jacob Hilgendorf homered off Niemann to open the inning.

''There's no quit in Southwest Missouri,'' Owls coach Wayne Graham said. ''They scared me to death that last inning.''

Niemann (17-0) won his school-record 18th straight decision over two seasons.

Through eight innings, the 6-foot-9, 260-pound sophomore allowed only Mathis' bunt single in the third.

Niemann walked one and struck out 10. He went to a three-ball count against one batter and threw only 87 pitches.

''Jeff came to the big show and was as good as he's been all year,'' Graham said. ''I don't think he can pitch better than that.''

Rice (54-11) advanced to a Monday meeting against Texas, which routed Miami 13-2 Saturday night. SMS (40-25) plays the Hurricanes on Monday.

Rice and SMS combined for only eight hits, tying the fewest in a CWS game.

SMS pitcher Chad Mulholland (10-4) settled down after struggling in the first inning. He hit two batters, walked one and threw a wild pitch all against the first three batters.

After loading the bases, Rice picked up two runs on Enrique Cruz's single and Craig Stansberry's sacrifice fly.

Mulholland gave up only four hits the rest of the way, but two were solo homers by Vincent Sinisi in the third and Austin Davis in the sixth.

It was only the 50th and 51st home runs in Rice's 65 games.

''I've always said we have a little bit of power,'' Graham said, ''even though it's not reflected in the stats.''

Before Shaun Marcum walked in the eighth, Mathis was the only SMS batter to reach base. His third-inning bunt forced Niemann to come off the mound to his right and try to barehand the ball. But he couldn't get a grip, and scorekeeper Lou Spry ruled it a hit.

Texas 13, Miami 2

OMAHA, Neb. Texas' highly anticipated College World Series matchup with Miami was all but over after two innings.

The Longhorns converted two errors by third baseman Gaby Sanchez into seven unearned runs in the first two innings, and J.P. Howell pitched six solid innings as Texas cruised to a 13-2 victory Saturday night.

The defending national champions battered six Miami pitchers for 15 hits.

''It was an offensive display we normally don't put on,'' Texas coach Augie Garrido said. ''There's a lot of potential on this team, so it doesn't come as a surprise. But it does come as a relief when the score stretches out like that.''

The game between the last two national champions was played before a CWS record crowd of 26,327.

Texas (49-18) advanced to a game Monday against intrastate rival Rice (54-11), which beat Southwest Missouri State 4-2 earlier Saturday.

Miami (44-16-1) will play Southwest Missouri State (40-25) in an elimination game Monday. The Hurricanes have gone two games and out only once in 19 previous CWS appearances.

Saturday's 11-run loss was the Hurricanes' worst in their 74-game CWS history. Their previous most-lopsided loss was a 12-2 defeat to Texas in 1989.

Howell (10-2) limited the Hurricanes to six hits and two runs in six innings, walking three and striking out eight. J. Brent Cox, Sam LeCure and Josh Smith combined for three innings of scoreless relief.

Omar Quintanilla and Eric Sultemeier homered, Curtis Thigpen had four hits and reached base six times, and Dustin Majewski and Taylor Teagarden had three hits apiece for the Longhorns.

''The hitting got contagious,'' Quintanilla said.

Texas broke it open after Sanchez's errors.

Sanchez threw into the dirt trying to get Sultemeier at first in the first inning, allowing Tim Moss to score.

In the second, with runners at the corners and two outs, Sanchez couldn't come up with a routine grounder and Thigpen came home from third for the first of six runs in the inning.

Quintanilla followed with a three-run homer off J.D. Cockroft (11-3) that narrowly cleared the right-field fence. Then, after Majewski singled, Sultemeier hit a two-run homer 10 rows into the left-field bleachers.

''We played one of the ugliest games since I've been at Miami,'' said Jim Morris, in his 10th year as Hurricanes coach. ''Any mistake we made, they capitalized. The first seven runs were unearned. It should have been nothing-nothing after two innings. That tells you how the game started.''

Miami scored single runs in the second and third innings, but Texas stretched its lead to 10-2 in the fourth on Teagarden's two-run triple and Thigpen's single.

Thigpen's hit finished Cockroft, who allowed 10 hits and three earned runs in 3 1-3 innings his shortest outing in 16 career starts.

Miami starts seven freshmen and sophomores, but right fielder Brian Barton said there were no jitters.

''We got down in a hole real quick,'' Barton said, ''and it was tough to bounce back.''

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