Along with all Longhorn baseball fans, we came into this season with the knowledge that 2008 was to be a "rebuilding year," because this young team was going to need to work through its growing pains before becoming a dangerous bunch on the conference and national stages. There is a big difference, though, between knowing that a rebuilding year is coming and following your team during one. This weekend, Oklahoma State was pleased to remind us why the latter is such an excruciating experience. In so doing, they handed Texas its first sweep at the Disch since (are you ready for this?) Nineteen Ninety Six!
Friday: Freshman lefty Chance Ruffin pitched a 10-inning gem but the 'Horns simply couldn't take advantage. Okie State starter Andrew Oliver threw eight spectacular innings of his own as the teams were tied at one after nine innings. The homestanding Longhorns had a shot at scoring the winning run with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth, but were unable to pick up the timely hit. The Cowboys scored in the top of the 11th off of Cole Green in his only frame of work and that was enough for a 2-1 victory. Still, it was an encouraging beginning to the series as Ruffin was fantastic and Michael Torres tied the all-time UT hitting streak record at 24.
Saturday: The Baby 'Horns managed to one-up themselves for heartbreak in Game Two of this series. A one-run loss in extra innings of a pitcher's duel is one thing; giving up four runs over the last two innings to lose by one is a worse thing. Much like Friday night, there were signs that this team is going to be very, very good in the future. Also like Friday night, this game was yet another bit of evidence that they just might not get there this year. Starter Brandon Workman (the third freshman out of three pitchers thus far on the weekend) didn't get out of the first inning and OSU has a 4-0 lead before the first Texas at-bat. Then came the reason for hope: the Longhorns responded with seven unanswered runs, including a four-spot of their own in the bottom of the second. In the process, Torres became Texas' all-time hit streak leader at 25. But with a run in the eighth and another three in the ninth, the Cowboys squeaked by with another one-run win.
Sunday: Kyle Russell hit two home runs, one of which was the 38th ever hit to dead center at UFCUDFF. Jordan Danks had nine bases in four at-bats (three doubles and a triple). Texas staked itself to an 8-2 lead after five innings. And Oklahoma State won. The Longhorn pitchers gave up 11 unanswered runs with three in the fifth, five in the eighth, and three more in the ninth. Two runs in the bottom of the frame was far too little, too late. Adding insult to injury, Torres' streak came to an end.
So let's review: Texas lost an emotional extra-inning pitcher's duel, blew a very late three-run lead, and blew a six-run lead all in the same weekend. Signs of great things to come were plentiful but signs of greatness right now were just a little bit too scarce.
Pitcher of the Series: This has to be Ruffin, who gave a courageous effort in a tough loss.
Hitter of the Series: It was Torres who made history, and his streak was one of the biggest stories of the season.
Kiddie Corpsman of the Series: Chance Ruffin's performance was so good, he gets both awards.
Next Up: The Longhorns head to Waco for a non-conference game against conference foe Baylor (a preview of the conference series May 2 through 4), host UTSA on Wednesday, and travel to the Little Apple for a three-game set against K-State this weekend.