Heading into the bottom of the ninth last night, it looked as if Texas had secured a series win on the road in Manhattan. At least psychologically, that would have been awfully nice; Texas is 3-4 in conference series this season, and 0 for their last 3. Since the entire basis for advancing in the NCAA Tournament is to win 3 games the first weekend and 2 the second, it would be nice for the Longhorns to remind themselves that, yes, they are indeed capable of winning more than one game in a weekend.
But now it will take a win today to accomplish that goal. Nathan Thornhill went 5.2 innings and allowed a single run as Texas built a 3-1 lead. He gave way to the bullpen, whose performance went from shaky to disastrous. Chad Hollingsworth worked a difficult 7th inning, giving up 3 hits in the frame but limiting the damage to a Ross Kivett RBI double. Catcher Tres Barrera erased the K-State run with a leadoff homer in the top of the 8th, giving Texas a 4-2 lead. Augie Garrido turned to closer John Curtiss to attempt the two-inning save.
In the 8th, he worked around a leadoff single by center fielder Max Brown--who then stole both second and third bases before Curtiss stranded him there with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. He would have no such success in the ninth, despite starting the inning against the Wildcats' two weakest hitters. The 8 and 9 men in the order started the frame with singles, and then leadoff man Kivett stroked an RBI single. Suddenly the winning run was on base with none out. Curtiss induced a pop out on a bunt attempt, but it didn't matter as Austin Fisher hammered a double down the left field line to complete the comeback and win the game.
Texas' best case scenario is now to get a good performance from Parker French, finish the conference season at 13-11 and 4-4 in series, and get hot in OKC at the conference tournament. A loss today, in all likelihood, removes Texas from any hosting conversation for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and completes the narrative of a second half collapse. So, no pressure.
First pitch is at 3:30 on Fox Sports 1. This is your open thread.