The Texas Longhorns (24-14, 11-4) ran out of comeback magic on their trip to Norman in their 6-0 loss yesterday to the Oklahoma Kyler Murrays (26-13, 9-3). After a weekend sweep became a possibility on the backs of two thrilling wins, the Longhorns fell flat to allow the Sooners to steal a game and regain the (temporary) Big 12 Conference lead.
The starting pitcher representing the burnt orange and white was Blair Henley, who entered today’s game with a 2.92 ERA making his first appearance after a dominating performance against Baylor. Henley started off the game flashing good velocity and movement on his pitches, but just not having the consistent command and control of the game to keep a dangerous Sooner lineup at bay.
The Sooners would strike first in the second inning, plating an early run off of Henley. After forcing a lead-off ground out, Henley hit the next batter up to get one aboard the bases. The following batter would single up the middle, advancing the runner to second, but Henley was able to get the next Sooner batter swinging on strikes for the second out of the inning. The nine hole DH for OU would bring the lead runner home with a single through the left side. Henley would escape the inning after inducing another ground-out, but the damage against him would not stop there.
Oklahoma added two more runs the next inning. After another lead-off ground-out, Henley would give up a single, a single, a walk, and a single - all in a row - that boosted the OU lead to 3-0. Henley was able to strike out the next two batters to escape the inning with two runners in scoring position. He would pitch another 1.1 innings before allowing a one out single in the bottom of the fifth, prompting David Pierce to make a change and call on Beau Ridgeway to relieve Henley.
Blair Henley: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 BB
It was a short outing for Henley in a game in which he was battered around to the tune of nine hits through just over four innings. It wasn’t all bad for Henley - as I mentioned above, he had flashes of good movement and velocity on his pitches, and the five strikeouts over 4.1 innings isn’t too shabby. Unfortunately, Henley just wasn’t consistent enough to overpower a good Oklahoma team that made him pay for his mistakes.
Ridgeway would provide an eventful 0.1 innings of relief, as he, too, was wildly inconsistent on the mound. After walking two Sooners and recording just one out, Pierce called for Josh Sawyer to relieve Ridgeway. Sawyer entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs, looking to escape an already long inning to get the ‘Horns to the sixth inning still down just 3-0.
Sawyer would be unable to do that, as he would begin his relief effort by hitting the first batter he faced, walking the second, and book-ending his appearance by hitting the third, allowing three runs to score. With the OU lead now 6-0, the law firm of Parker Joe Robinson came in for relief, and would get Kyler Murray (did you know he also plays football?? Thanks, ESPN!) to strike out to end the inning.
With no more runs to speak of, the story of the night was the performance of the Sooners’ starting pitcher Nathan Wiles, who went 7.2 innings and struck out seven Longhorns while only giving up five hits and one walk. Though the Sooners were able to add six runs through the middle of the game, one run was more than enough on a day were the ‘Horns struggled to get anyone on base.
In all, this weekend (and truthfully, this past week) was a success for the Longhorns. For a team that has struggled this year both on the road and against ranked teams, taking 2/4 games (and being competitive in 3/4) against ranked teams on the road should be especially encouraging for this Texas squad. Incredibly clutch, timely hitting carried the ‘Horns to their two wins, and for a moment catapulted them to first place in the Big 12. Hopefully, this series and strong week can provide some much needed momentum as Texas looks to put this game behind them to finish out their season.
The Longhorns return to action for some good ol’ midweek baseball at the Disch at 7:00 pm Tuesday night against UT Rio Grande Valley. You can catch that game on LHN or 104.9 The Horn, but be sure to check back in here for pre-game and post-game analysis.