Texas went into this past weekend sorely needing a series victory, and the 'Horns got one in the Little Apple. It topped off a decent week in which Texas went 3-2 with a convincing win at Baylor in a non-conference game. It certainly wasn't anything to write home about, but the important thing was getting back in the Win column after suffering the first sweep at Disch-Falk Field in over a decade, and the boys in orange did just that.
Taking two of three from Kansas State improved the Longhorns' conference record to 10-11 and their overall record to 26-18. Winning at least half of the next six conference games (Baylor and then A&M) should put to rest any doubts about Texas' status for the NCAA tournament, and even a 2-4 showing should be fine with at least one win in the conference tournament.
Here's how it happened: on Friday night, the story was solid offense to build a 6-3 lead and clutch pitching to avoid a potentially disastrous K-State comeback bid. Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fourth, Kyle Russell continues his return to power hitting with a leadoff homerun to cut the deficit to two. A Cameron Rupp double and an RBI fielder's choice by Travis Tucker gave Texas a 4-3 lead, which they extended with single scores in the eighth and ninth. But the bottom of the ninth was scary, to say the least. Brandon Belt actually threw pretty well, but the 'Cats scored a run with a questionable no-call on a full-count check swing, an infield single, and a gift. With two outs, Texas appeared to be giving away yet another close game: a shallow pop-up to center fell into--and out of--Tucker's glove to allow a Wildcat to cross the plate. Another unearned run scored as the next batter singled and suddenly Texas led by only one. Thankfully, Augie Garrido called on Pat McCrory to put out the fire and he recorded a strikeout to end the game--ingeniously taking the Longhorn fielders out of the equation. Thus did Texas hold on 6-5.
Kansas State pitcher Brad Hutt won Big XII Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance on Saturday, holding the Longhorns to one run and seven scattered hits over eight-plus innings. Cole Green, Stayton Thomas, Belt, and McCrory combined on an altogether acceptable outing on the hill, but Hutt was too good on this day and the Longhorns just couldn't get anything going in a 4-1 loss.
In Sunday's game Texas pounced on K-State early with a four-spot in the first and held on for a 7-4 victory. Austin Wood pitched a great game, going 7.1 innings and allowing only two earned runs. The other two came courtesy of two balks in the third, and Tant Shepherd's drop of a throw from David Hernandez at short. The first baseman dropping a throw was just about the only way that the Texas infield had yet to commit an error this year, so it's nice that they checked that one off the list.
Hitter of the Series: Russell Moldenhauer had two hits each on Friday and Saturday, and was 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter on Sunday.
Pitcher of the Series: Wood threw more pitches than he ever has in one start at 138. His effort was huge in picking up the rubber game.
Kiddie Corpsman of the Series: After a shaky start, Chance Ruffin settled in to get the win on Friday. He gave up only three hits and three runs in 6.1 innings of work.
Next Up: Tonight, the Longhorns play at home against Texas State and you can watch it online at Texas Sports. They then head back to Waco Friday night and return home for the Saturday and Sunday games of the Baylor in-conference series.