Texas’ double header against Oklahoma St. wasn’t the worst baseball the Longhorns have played this year, but it was two of their most disappointing losses. The Longhorns fell 3-0, and 6-3 to the Cowboys in Saturday’s matches. The outcomes severely damaged -- if not eliminated, Texas’ at large tournament hopes.
The season-long motif of errors resulting in opponent runs reemerged for Texas in their first game. Oklahoma State’s first run came off of an error by pitcher Morgan Cooper in the fifth inning. In the top of the ninth, Patrick Mathis was unable to cleanly field an Oklahoma State hit, resulting in two runs scoring rather than one.
Despite his error, Morgan Cooper had one of his best ever performances, tying his career high of eight strikeouts. In his six innings, he allowed only two hits and the one unearned run. Eric Dunbar and Josh Sawyer also got the job done when they came on for relief.
Blake Wellman, however, had some control issues. With two outs in the ninth, he gave up a single and then hit the ninth batter for the Cowboys. Travis Duke then came in and gave up a hit, resulting in two runs, one of which was because of Mathis’ aforementioned error.
On offense, Texas’ bats got going in spurts, but could never rally. The only time Texas sent five batters to the plate in an inning was in the ninth. Travis Jones was a bright spot for Texas, as he got three hits, and made it to third twice. On his first trip to third, Texas had runners on the corners in the first inning with one out, but Oklahoma State got a 6-4-3 double play. When Jones was on third in the ninth, Texas had runners on the corners with two outs, but Joe Baker eventually grounded out after being up 3-0 in the count.
Texas’ offensive shortcomings were largely because they faced one of college baseball’s best aces. With the win, Oklahoma State pitcher Thomas Hatch notched back to back shutout complete games. He had also blanked TCU last Friday.
The loss was entirely debilitating, as you could almost feel the fans’ collective sigh at Disch Falk Field when the Longhorns came up short. This post-loss malaise carried over into the second half of the double header. Ty Culbreth, who had been Texas’ most consistent pitcher, let up two runs in the first inning.
However, the Longhorns proved their resilience, as they clawed back to tie the game 2-2 by the end of the second. The runs were scored on a pair of RBI singles -- Patrick Mathis knocked in Barrera in the first, and Jake McKenzie brought home Tyler Rand in the second.
Culbreth found his groove until the 6th inning when Texas became unhinged. Culbreth gave up a leadoff double, and the runner stole third and then scored on a single. In predictable fashion, an error then furthered the Longhorns’ downfall. Patrick Mathis had a ball fall off of his glove, putting two runners in scoring position. A sac fly made it 4-2, and then a hard infield single off of Culbreth’s leg scored another. To add insult to injury, the fifth run ended Culbreth’s career long streak of never giving up more than four runs a game.
In the seventh inning, Texas got their chance to once again climb back. With the bases loaded and one out, Bret Boswell came on to pinch hit for Jake McKenzie. Boswell had a full count, but ended up striking out on a fastball, putting him at only 1 for 23 in conference play. Oklahoma State’s star closer Tyler Buffett then came on to pitch.
However, Texas was not done yet. Travis Jones beat out a two out dribbler, diving head first and making the score 5-3. Kody Clemens then stepped up to the plate and got a 3-0 count. Clemens took two strikes, and fouled off five pitches before striking out. It was a noble effort, and it was his fifth strikeout of the day.
Clemens’ strike out is a microcosm of the season. There’s no doubt Texas has resiliency, but it’s not enough to make up for bad baseball. Oklahoma State ended up adding another run to their lead in the eighth, and Texas fell 6-3.
In my last Texas baseball post, I used the cliche that the season’s been an emotional rollercoaster. To clarify, it’s a nausea inducing, stomach churning ride, not a euphoric one.
Texas will have a chance to avoid their second sweep of the year tomorrow at 1:30 pm CST. The game will be on the Longhorn Network, and the comment section can be your open thread.