The No. 9 Texas Longhorns used four home runs to rally against the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field for an 11-6 victory that took the series.
Third baseman Cam Williams led the way for the Horns with a 3-for-5 day with two home runs and four RBI while first baseman Zach Zubia and center fielder Eric Kennedy both added home runs of their own. Zubia and Kennedy both had two RBI.
For the second straight day, the Sooners put up two runs in the first inning to take an early lead. Against right-hander Tristan Stevens, Jimmy Crooks drew a six-pitch walk with one out and Tyler Hardman jumped on a hanging slider from Stevens that kept carrying to the opposite field through the humid Austin air until it landed just beyond the right-field fence. After allowing another hit, Stevens got some help from Williams, whose diving stop towards the line produced the second out and likely saved a run. A backdoor slider ended the inning with a strikeout looking.
Three outs by Texas in the bottom of the inning only required five pitches, but the Longhorns were more effective at the plate in the second. Catcher Silas Ardoin led off the inning with a single to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Remaining hot at the plate, second baseman Mitchell Daly scored Ardoin with a single into center field to cut the Oklahoma lead to 2-1.
TWO-OUT KNOCKS!@Mitchdaly19 comes through again and the Horns are on the board! It’s a 2-1 ballgame. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/Jk0XXuTZpg— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 27, 2021
After the first, Stevens started to settle into a better groove, as ace Ty Madden did on Friday. When Stevens located the slider better, he was able to get strikeouts — five through three innings. And his sinker was working, too, resulting in three groundouts over those three innings.
With a tough cutter and a fastball that reached 94 miles per hour, Oklahoma left-hander Jake Bennett was difficult to get to for Texas, especially the cutter with its late glove-side movement in on the hands of a Longhorns lineup that used eight right-handed batters.
In the third, though, a good at bat from shortstop Trey Faltine resulted in an opposite-field double to lead off the inning and right fielder Douglas Hodo III reached on a bunt single. Hodo stole second base, but Kennedy popped out to the third baseman, a big first out for the Sooners. A tough at bat from Williams resulted in a sharply hit ball up the middle and Oklahoma’s shortstop made a fantastic diving play to retire Williams. Still, Williams was able to score Faltine from third to tie the game. Facing a full count, Ardoin made good contact to center field, but the ball was playable and Bennett escaped the inning without the Horns taking the lead.
In the fifth, with a runner on third and two outs, Hardman came to the plate again and Stevens made another mistake. Hardman didn’t miss with a no-doubt home run to left field and a 4-2 lead. Stevens left the game after 6.0 innings, having thrown 92 pitches with four earned runs on six hits and two walks. Though it wasn’t the best effort from Stevens in terms of giving up earned runs thanks to the two home runs by Hardman, he did have a career-high seven strikeouts and pitched well enough for Texas to have a lead when he exited in favor of left-hander Lucas Gordon.
Texas answered quickly in the bottom of the fifth — left fielder Dylan Campbell led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on an error by the Oklahoma left fielder and promptly scored when Faltine singled up the middle. The turned in favor of the Sooners just as quickly when Hodo struck out and was called for interference as Faltine tried to steal second. Then Kennedy grounded out to end the inning with Oklahoma still in the lead, 4-3.
In the sixth, Bennett left a changeup out over the middle of the plate and Williams took advantage, hitting his team-leading fifth home run of the season deep over the left-field fence to tie the game.
OH YESSIR IT’S HAMMER TIME! @55theHammer launches his 5th of the year and we’re all tied at 4-4 in the 6th!#HookEm pic.twitter.com/G7Tg4udN5K— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 28, 2021
Ardoin singled after Bennett left the game and Zubia put a big swing on the ball himself — on a fastball left over the plate, Zubia once again sent the pitch over the wall left of the batter’s eye to take a 6-4 lead.
ZU. BI. A!!!!@zachzubia goes yard and the Horns lead the Sooners, 6-4, in the 6th!#HookEm pic.twitter.com/BkkbsTOjEz— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 28, 2021
The home-run parade continued in the seventh inning for Texas, with Kennedy pulling a 3-1 pitch over the right-field fence for his first home run of the season and the third of the game for the Longhorns.
THAT’S EK!— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 28, 2021
Kennedy goes deep for his 1st of the season and it’s a 7-4 Texas lead!#HookEm pic.twitter.com/HPby18VIl6
Texas added more insurance runs in the eighth. Faltine singled with two outs and advanced to second on a wild pitch when Hodo drove a ball to left-center field off the wall to score Faltine and Kennedy singled up the middle to score Hodo.
THIS BALL WAS HAMMERED!!@55theHammer GOES DEEP AGAIN AND THIS ONE WENT A LOOOONG WAY!— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) March 28, 2021
Texas leads, 11-4! #HookEm pic.twitter.com/5IIDrB6jP9
Texas goes for the sweep at 1 p.m. Central on Sunday on Longhorn Network.