Former Arlington Heights right-hander Blair Henley was basking in the glow of the University of Texas' first trip to the Super Regionals since 2014 when he spotted one of the many quotes from the late Augie Garrido posted throughout the Longhorns dugout and clubhouse.
"The world treats winners a lot different than it treats losers," read the quote.
The Longhorns are back in the Super Regionals under second-year coach David Pierce and the legendary spirit of Garrido, who passed away on March 15, is still with the team. Garrido won a record 1,975 games and five titles, including the last two during 20 seasons at Texas.
"He's always in our thoughts. We're playing for him and his legacy," said Henley, who was one of the last players Garrido recruited. "He's been there for sure. I love it."
Helping Texas return to postseason glory has meant everything to Henley, who was named a 2016 Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American following his senior season at Arlington Heights.
The Horns opponent, however, is another story. Tennessee Tech, the winner of the Ohio Valley Conference, escaped the Oxford, Miss., Regional by beating No. 4 Ole Miss twice on Monday. The Golden Eagles (52-10) are the first team from the conference to reach the Super Regionals.
It's the Horns 10th time since the format began in 1999. Texas (40-20) is looking for its record 36th trip to the College World Series. The Horns swept their way through the Austin Regional beating Texas Southern, Texas A&M and Indiana.
The best-of-three series begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
Henley, who once threw three straight no-hitters for his high school, will start Game 3, if necessary, at noon on Sunday. He has been the Horns most consistent starting pitcher and he's used to taking the ball in the final game of a series.
"I've been in this situation a lot this year being the Sunday guy," said Henley, who is 6-6 in 15 starts with a 3.22 ERA in 81 innings. "They count on me to go out there and get us a win."
That's what made Sunday night's regional-clinching win so fun, said Hensley, who earned the win after holding Indiana to two unearned runs over 7 1/3 innings. Longhorns fans gave him a standing ovation as he left the mound in the eighth inning.
"I thought to myself, 'This is bad ass. This is why we play," he said. "We do what we do because we want to win."
Henley was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft. He'll be eligible again next June.
Tennessee Tech, located in Cookeville, Tenn., may not bring a whole lot of history to Austin (besides being former Texas football coach Mack Brown's hometown) but the high-powered offense has gotten the attention of the Horns' pitching staff.
Name an offensive statistic and the Golden Eagles probably the lead the country.
They lead the nation with a .338 batting average, 768 hits and 134 home runs in 62 games (second closest is Clemson with 98 HRs). Tech is averaging more than two home runs a game and reach base as a team at a .434 clip. The Golden Eagles score a nation-leading 10.2 runs a game. That's 630 runs this season, 100 more runs than the next closest team. Of course, Tech may not being facing the most elite pitching in the Ohio Valley Conference, but tell that to Ole Miss.
Did Henley know anything about Tennessee Tech until last weekend?
"Absolutely zero," he said. "We had to watch them. I'd never seen numbers like that. I started studying them, their weakness and strengths. Obviously, when a team has that many home runs it's impressive. They're doing something right."
Tech has seven hitters with at least 10 homers. Texas has two, including Big 12 Player of the Year Kody Clemens, who has 21.
That means almost every guy in their lineup has at least 10 jacks," Henley said. "I like going against big-hitting guys and getting them out. It's more of an accomplishment. We'll be studying them all week."
Austin Super Regional
UT-Austin (40-20) vs. Tennessee Tech (52-10)
(at Disch-Falk Field)
Game 1: 2 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)
Game 2: 2 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)
Game 3 (If necessary): noon Monday (ESPN2)