The Longhorns took two of three against the Cowboys this weekend. Head inside for the details.
The No. 23 Texas Longhorns (20-13,9-3) bounced back to sweep Saturday’s double header vs. Oklahoma State ( 18-16,5-7) after falling Friday night in 11 innings.
In the 3-1 loss on Friday, Nathan Thornhill went six and two thirds strong innings, allowing one run and striking out five. Oklahoma State’s Andrew Heaney was even better on the mound pitching nine innings, allowing one run and striking out nine.
The ‘Horns got on the board first in the third inning thanks to a Mark Payton double which scored Brooks Marlow from second base. A balk advanced Payton to third, but Taylor Stell struck out to end the inning. After back-to-back singles by Stell and Big 12 Player of the Week,Erich Weiss, both advanced on a double steal. However, a ground out ended the inning.
The Cowboys evened the score with a wild pitch by Hoby Milner in the seventh, which came after Thornhill loaded the bases.
Corey Knebel absorbed the loss after allowing two runs in the 11th, following great innings in the eighth, ninth and 10th. Jarrett Higgins singled to lead off the inning, and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice. Robbie Rea then doubled to score Higgins making it 2-1. Mark Ginther followed that with an RBI single scoring Rea for the insurance run.
Texas then threatened in the 11th after Stell was hit by a pitch and Weiss walked. Jonathan Walsh flew out, and Kevin Lusson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. With a chance to tie it, Jacob Felts struck out swinging, leaving the game to Jordan Etier. Etier nearly hit a potential game winning winning double, but the ball just curved foul. He then went on to ground out to end the game.
In game two the ‘Horns blanked the Pokes 5-0 after eight shutout innings by Parker French. Texas took the lead in the fourth following a single by Alex Silver, and a double by Etier. Lusson hit a ball to third base, that was thrown home, but was not caught by the catcher and resulting in a 1-0 Texas lead. The next at bat was a sacrifice bunt by Felts, which expanded the Texas lead to 2-0.
Texas then struck again with a three run sixth inning. Like in the fourth, Silver started off the inning with a single. Lusson got on base following an Etier fly out, leading to runners on the corners with one out. Felts came up big with an RBI single, expanding the lead to 3-0. Marlow then walked to load the bases, leading to a two RBI double by Payton. From then on Texas was decidedly in control of the game, especially with French pitching the best game of his career.
The split of the first two games, led to a rubber match game three just over a half an hour later.
Ricky Jacquez got into a jam early on, allowing two runs to cross the plate in the top of the first inning. The ‘Horns answered with an RBI double by Weiss to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Pokes threatened, yet another time in the third getting runners to second and third with nobody out. However, Jacquez was able to force a ground out and struck out the following two batters to end the scare. He was hit hard for the third consecutive inning in the third inning with runners advancing to second and third in the fourth inning, but was once again able to get out of the jam.
The ‘Horns proceeded to tie the game in the bottom of the third after Stell singled, stole second and advanced to third on an error. Weiss grounded out to the pitcher, but was credited with his second RBI of the day.
The offenses of both teams were very quiet until the bottom of the eighth inning. Following a Marlow fly out, Payton was able to extend his at bat to a full count when he got a pitch he couldn’t lay off of. At just the right moment, the wind picked up in time for him to crush the ball over the left field wall for the 3-2 lead and his second home run of the season. For Payton, it was the 34th consecutive game he reached base safely, a streak that dates back to the season ending loss to North Carolina in the 2011 College World Series.
Milner then proceeded to retire the side of the Cowboys to end the game and give Texas its fourth conference series victory in four attempts. The ‘Horns remain in the chase for the Big 12 title, but will need to keep up their winning ways to do so.
Series Grade: B+
Texas bounced back well after losing game one on Friday night. However, the ‘Horns should’ve been able to sweep the Cowboys, and likely would’ve if it wasn’t for one bad pitch. The Longhorns did lose to one of the better pitchers in the Big 12. Still, to take the Big 12 title, this team needs series sweeps.
The Longhorns play a non conference game this Tuesday against Texas State and a conference series against the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend. The Bobcats, who started off the year No. 35 in the polls have had a rough season and boast a 20-15 record and are fresh off getting swept by the hands of Southeastern Louisiana. The Jayhawks are even worse, at 13-23 (3-9) coming off a series loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. With favorable matchups this week, don’t be surprised if Texas continues to play well and go unscathed in their four games.