In a vacuum, losing a midweek game to Lamar at home is not inherently a big problem for Texas baseball. In a vacuum, winning only one out of three games in Norman against Oklahoma is a perfectly normal outcome for a road conference series and nothing to be alarmed about.
But! We don't live in a vacuum. Things have context. Here, the context is that Texas started its baseball season -- granted, against a top-rated schedule -- with a 9-12 record heading into Big 12 play. That start completely erased any margin for error the Longhorns might have had in a quest to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately, last week was a veritable comedy of errors. Head coach Augie Garrido continues stubbornly to bunt with men on regardless of the situation, giving away precious outs that stymy potentially big innings. Those types of decisions cost the team runs over the course of a season, and Texas has presently lost nine games by two runs or less. Again, that's nine out of 16 losses by either one or two runs (most of those are by one run, by the way).
In Norman, Texas got run out of the stadium on Friday thanks to three Oklahoma home runs off Morgan Cooper en route to a 6-1 Sooner victory. Texas ended a three-game skid by taking the second game on Saturday by a score of 5-3. That one was a classic example of jumping out early and making it hold up, as the Horns sprung for four runs in the opening frame.
Even in the big inning, though, there was frustration to be had: after Kody Clemens led the game off by drawing a walk, Texas had designated hitter Travis Jones lay down a sacrifice bunt. That's right: in the top of the first, with a man on and none out, the number two hitter in the order was asked to bunt. It didn't even work, as Clemens was thrown out at second -- making the bunt a pure, unadulterated waste of an out.
Thankfully, Tres Barrera and Patrick Mathis still play for Texas -- after Kacy Clemens drew another walk, the four and five hitters smashed back-to-back doubles to stake the Longhorns to a 3-0 lead. After an infield single and an unearned run on an error by the Sooner catcher, Texas had a man on third with one away and Brady Harlan at the plate. Who bunted. In the first inning. And once again, Oklahoma made a play on the lead runner instead of getting the out at first.
Tallying that up, Texas scored four runs in an inning where the first two outs came courtesy of Texas intentionally giving Oklahoma the outs. I just can't. But, in one cool piece of news, Travis Duke saw his 100th appearance in the game -- a nice honor for the lefty stalwart.
Oklahoma took the rubber match Sunday, a very winnable game that Texas allowed to slip away. Holding onto a 3-1 lead in the sixth, Texas started by allowing a walk and then Kody Clemens mishandled a hot shot to shortstop to set the Sooners up to do some damage. Youth giveth and youth taketh away, though, as Clemens' fellow freshman Chase Shugart came on to hold the Oklahoma damage down at two runs in the inning for a tie game. But after Texas stranded seven runners and couldn't get a fourth run across, Oklahoma manufactured the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
To be honest, the Sunday loss was one of those "that's baseball" kind of games -- the Longhorns smoked a pair of shots to the warning track in the top of the ninth which could have turned the entire game around, but it just wasn't meant to be. The problem, again, is that with such a rough start there just isn't room for almost. Texas sits at 12-16 overall and 3-3 in the conference after a 1-3 week that started with a home loss to Lamar.
In the normal course of a college season, games like Lamar and tonight's opponent, TAMU-CC, are opportunities to get some reps for young pitchers and you don't really care whether you win or lose. But for this Texas team, every single notch in the win column from here on out is vital. They really can't afford to drop more midweek games against smaller schools. The 'Horns will run right-handed pitcher Nolan Kingham (1-2, 3.00) out against the Islanders' right-handed pitcher Aaron Hernandez (1-3, 6.65)
First pitch is 7 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network. This is your open thread.