"We had 'em on the ropes," Louisiana coach Tony Robichaux said.
Chance Ruffin owes Texas a "You're welcome."
The Longhorns junior pitcher struck out the game's final five batters for a 4-2 win to send Texas to within a game of hosting a super regional next weekend.
"You know how excited he was? I was more excited," Texas manager Augie Garrido said. "That game is huge and for him to pitch in support of his teammates the way he did and respond to the crisis-type situation we were in to minimize that damage was really critical, and he thrives on it. It makes him better. That's why he's going to do that in the big leagues pretty soon."
Ruffin struggled to begin the eighth inning, loading the bases after misplaying a bunt down the third-base line. But after a sacrifice fly cut the lead to one, Ruffin showed more of the talent that has earned him 14 saves on the season. An insurance run on a double to the wall in right center in the top of the ninth made his final inning a bit simpler.
"That was one of the funnest games and great situation to be in," Ruffin said.
Starter Cole Green (11-1) earned the win after allowing just six hits and two runs in seven innings of work. Texas (48-11) hit a pair of solo home runs to send Louisiana-Lafayette into the loser's bracket to face Rice, who rediscovered its offense after a frustrating shutout loss in its opener against the Ragin' Cajuns. The Owls (39-22) eliminated Rider (36-23) with a win in Saturday's early game 19-1 after jumping to an 11-0 lead through four innings. Third baseman Anthony Rendon pitched in three homers and seven RBIs to help Rice set the record for home runs, with four, at in-state rival Texas' stadium, Disch-Falk Field.
"You mean Rice has the record at Disch?" Rice coach Wayne Graham said, before flashing a sarcastic, nervous frown.
The Owls scored five runs in the second inning, highlighted by left fielder Michael Fuda's two-RBI triple off the top of the wall in center field.
Rice starting pitcher Taylor Wall pitched 3.2 perfect innings, but with an 11-0 lead, Graham pulled him in hopes he could return to the mound for a possible championship game date Monday night. Rider got its first hit later that inning.
Rice and Louisiana will meet at 2 p.m. ET Sunday for the right to face the Longhorns in Sunday night's championship game at 7:30. If either pulls off the upset, they'll need to beat Texas a second time in a game on Monday to advance to a super regional.
"Whoever wins the national championship will win games like this. They'll come from behind and win games late. That's what has to happen to be consistent. You can't just stay out in the lead. It's not a canoe ride out on Lady Bird Lake."
-- Texas coach Augie Garrido