Four runs in the eighth and ninth innings pushed the Texas Longhorns over the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman on Friday evening as the Horns overcame a 6-3 deficit by the home to win 7-6 on a two-run double from Mason Hibbeler in the top of the ninth inning.
Recently-elevated closer Andy McGuire then earned his fifth save this season after coming on in relief for for the final three outs.
The Longhorns were without their ace Nolan Kingham tonight, who was benched for not adhering to the team’s academic attendance policy. Kingham will be available in the next two games, presumably in relief.
Bryce Elder stepped in for Kingham and make his first career start at Texas, battling through five innings and giving up four runs, all earned.
Texas got on the board first in the seconnd inning after a sacrifice fly from DJ Petrinsky plated David Hamilton to give the ‘Horns a 1-0 lead.
The Sooners answered in the third after Steele Walker hit a wind-assisted pop fly to right field that found its way over the fence. In the fourth inning, the home team extended to lead 4-1 over Texas with single runs.
After striking first, the Sooners held the Longhorns scoreless up until the sixth inning, when a solo home run by Kody Clemens (10) broke the drought and pulled the ‘Horns to within two.
Unfortunately, momentum did not side with Texas for very long as Oklahoma answered with a run in the bottom half of the sixth. The two teams exchanged punches for a couple innings as Texas would add another run in the seventh inning, only to have the Sooners counter with a run of their own.
Going into the eighth inning, things looked bleak for the Longhorns, who tend to struggle when trailing late in games, found themselves on the wrong side of a 6-3 ballgame. A glimmer of hope came in the Texas half of the 8th after Zach Zubia lifted a one-out homer, his seventh, to right field to pull Texas within two.
David Pierce then sent Matteo Bocchi to the mound in the bottom of the eighth in hopes of holding the Sooners scoreless. He did just that in a high-leverage situation, a big accomplishment for the Italian junior college transfer.
The Longhorns went to the ninth still trailing 6-4in hopes of some late-game magic. Petrinsky worked the count full and earn a leadoff walk to get things started for Texas. Michael McCann came on to pinch run for Texas and advanced to second base after a Duke Ellis single to right. Jake McKenzie followed up by striking out. However, the ‘Horns remained a threat.
Tate Shaw came to the plate with one out and delivered a clutch RBI single to the gap in left, plating McCann and allowing Duke Ellis to go first to third on the play.
After a move to the bullpen, Hibbeler delivered that game-winning double, scoring both Ellis and Shaw to give Texas the 7-6 lead.
Pierce finished it out with his guy McGuire in the bottom half, even though a leadoff single started the frame, closing it with a groundout with runners on first and third.
Ballgame. Texas with the Friday night gut punch to the Sooners. Man, that one felt so good and you can just sense how big this game was for coach Pierce and his staff after an exhausting fight with the Aggies on Tuesday night.
Game two is Saturday night at 8 P.M. Central on ESPNU and 104.9 The Horn FM.