AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Augie Garrido knew the last two years weren't good enough.
Garrido, the all-time winningest coach in Division I baseball history, failed to lead the Longhorns to the NCAA tournament in each of the two seasons since Texas made its record 34th trip to the College World Series in 2011.
"It isn't acceptable and we know that," Garrido said in February. "The same standards that are acceptable put us in the College World Series and competing for the national championship. Until those standards are met, it's a substandard performance and we don't intend to be a part of that."
True to his word, Garrido turned things around and helped Texas (41-19) advance within two wins of returning to Omaha after Chad Hollingsworth's complete-game, 128-pitch gem in Monday's 4-1 win over Texas A&M. Those victories will have to come against Houston (48-16) when it hosts a best-of-three super regional in Austin, beginning Friday with Game 1.
The Cougars, who have not been to the College World Series since 1967, climbed out of the loser's bracket in the Baton Rouge Regional, beating No. 4 national seed LSU twice to advance. They fell to Texas, 3-2, in March.
"We tried from Day 1 at fall practice (to tell the team) that the game is nine innings, the season's long. You just keep grinding away and see what happens," Houston coach Todd Whitting said the clinching 12-2 win over LSU. "You just try to go 1-0 every single day. This team to the nth degree has really done that."
Friday will mark the 126th meeting between Texas and Houston, Southwest Conference members together for two decades before the league broke up in 1996. The Longhorns and Cougars have played 23 times since then, with only seven of those meetings coming in the last 12 years.