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Texas forces another game with Vandy
Texas' Mark Payton, left, is safe at first base after Texas pitcher Dillon Peters, right, stumbled and dropped the ball following the tag in the inning of an NCAA baseball College World Series game in Omaha, Neb., Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nathan Thornhill and John Curtiss pitched Texas' second straight shutout at the College World Series, and the Longhorns forced a second bracket final against Vanderbilt with a 4-0 victory Friday.
The Longhorns (46-20) and Commodores (48-20) will meet again Saturday, with the winner advancing to the best-of-three finals against Virginia or Mississippi. Those teams played a bracket final Friday night.
For the second straight game, Texas pitchers didn't allow a runner past second base. The Longhorns have held opponents scoreless 19 straight innings and have given up four runs in their four games in Omaha.
Texas scored twice in each of the first two innings to lead 4-0, with a couple of the runs crossing the plate as a result of quirky plays.
The Longhorns are batting just .198 at the CWS, but have won three of four games. For them, it's all about pitching.
Chad Hollingsworth and Travis Duke combined on a four-hit shutout against UC Irvine on Wednesday, and Thornhill (9-3) led Texas to its 13th shutout of the season by holding Vanderbilt to six singles in eight innings. Curtiss pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Vanderbilt starter Tyler Ferguson (8-4) lasted just two-thirds of an inning. Reliever Brian Miller went the rest of the way, holding Texas to four hits and striking out eight.
The Commodores were without third baseman Xavier Turner, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the rest of the CWS for an unspecified rules violation. Tyler Campbell, who had appeared in 14 games and had a total of 15 at-bats, started in Turner's place and went 2 for 3.
The Longhorns scored in some unusual ways to take the early lead.
After Texas loaded the bases in the first against Ferguson on two hit batters and a walk, C.J. Hinojosa sent a low line drive up the middle. Second baseman Dansby Swanson was there to start a possible double play, but umpire Mark Uyl couldn't dodge the ball.
The ball struck Uyl, meaning the play was dead immediately, and runners by rule were allowed to advance one base. That allowed Brooks Marlow to score from third.
In the second, after Zane Gurwitz tripled, Vanderbilt right fielder Rhett Wiseman came up short when he dived to catch Marlow's dying fly. The ball rolled to the warning track and Marlow ended up on third.
Marlow came home when Miller, after tagging Mark Payton on a close play at first, dropped the ball as he rolled on his back after a near collision with the Payton. First-base umpire Jeff Head initially called Payton out, then reversed himself, and the call stood after an umpire conference.