Out of the stretch, with runners on second and third and the ballgame in the balance, Aaron Nixon came set, looking down at the mound.
So Nixon never saw Kurt Wilson take a big lead from third base and then steal home without a throw for a walkoff 5-4 win in the 10th inning, an unbelievable ending to a hard-fought, close game between the No. 2 Texas Longhorns and the No. 16 Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock on Friday evening.
The steal by Wilson came after Nixon struggled with his fastball command once again, walking the first two batters in extra innings and then paying after a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout put him on the precipice of extending the game before his colossal mistake on the mound.
Until late, the game was defined by seven solo home runs — three for Texas Tech and four to Texas — before the Red Raiders were able to execute with two late runs, one to tie in the eighth inning, and the walkoff steal of home in the 10th. Texas Tech scored both crucial runs without the benefit of a base hit.
The final outcome ruined big performances from Texas first baseman Ivan Melendez and third baseman Skyler Messinger, Melendez was 3-for-3 with a double, a home run, and two walks. Messinger continued his recent surge with a 3-for-5 performance that also featured a double and a home run.
Texas took the lead on the second pitch of the game, a fastball from Texas Tech right-hander Andrew Morris that missed over the inner half of the plate and was deposited somewhere near Seminole by left fielder Eric Kennedy.
Texas Tech responded quickly when Easton Murrell hit a 3-1 offering from Texas left-hander Pete Hansen out to right field, then took the lead with a mammoth home run from Jace Jung, who screamed at Longhorns shortstop Trey Faltine while rounding the bases. Hudson White added another no-doubt home run in the second inning.
It was a remarkable power surge for the Red Raiders against a pitcher who entered Friday’s game having allowed only five home runs in 136 innings over three seasons. Hansen bounced back, however, retiring the final 18 batters that he faced and finishing the game with seven strikeouts over seven innings. The three home runs were the only hits allowed by Hansen.
In the first two innings, the Horns stranded three runners, but elevated the pitch count of Morris and put runners on first and second with a walk drawn by first baseman Ivan Melendez and a single by right fielder Murphy Stehly. Catcher Silas Ardoin couldn’t come through, grounding out to third base, and shortstop Trey Faltine was punched out looking as Texas missed another opportunity with runners on second and third. The Longhorns finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Texas didn’t score again until the seventh inning, when Melendez was able to drive a low and outside pitch over the right-field wall for his 11th home run of the season.
In the eighth, Faltine hit the game’s sixth solo home run, followed by the seventh when third baseman Skyler Messinger left the yard at Dan Law Field.
After seven innings from Hansen, right-hander Jared Southard came on in relief, but once again struggled with his command, allowing a leadoff walk to White on a full count. White stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Ardoin, then scored on a fielder’s choice when Melendez couldn’t handle a chopper to first base.
Right-handed closer Aaron Nixon replaced Southard and got out of the eighth inning and continued pitching into extra innings, but wasn’t able to give the Longhorns a chance to win in the 11th.
First pitch on Saturday is at 2 p.m. Central on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.