The No. 8 Texas Longhorns picked up the first Big 12 series win of the season in dramatic fashion by rallying from a major deficit in the 12-8 win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
After going down 7-1 thanks to a three-run home run by Oklahoma shortstop Peyton Graham in the sixth inning, Texas looked deep in the water after struggling against Oklahoma left-hander Chazz Martinez until scoring a run in the top of the inning. But the Longhorns used a relentless approach against a Sooners bullpen that didn’t have closer Trevin Michael available after his long outing on Saturday — Texas scored six runs in the seventh inning and five more runs in the ninth inning, taking the lead and holding on for a much-needed victory.
Right fielder Murphy Stehly led the way with a 3-for-5 performance with four RBI and two runs scored, coming through with the three-run home run that tied the game in the seventh. Left fielder Dylan Campbell preceded Stehly with his own three-run home run that inning and designated hitter Austin Todd returned to the lineup after missing nearly a month due to injury with a 3-for-5 day featuring a two-run single in the ninth to go up 10-7.
Oklahoma led off the scoring in the first inning when Graham was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count with one out, stole second, advanced to third on a bloop single into left field by Blake Robertson, and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Diego Muniz.
After a one-out triple in the second, the Sooners tried to score the same way, but the bunt went right to Gordon and Cade Horton made the wrong read at third base, deciding to come home and getting caught in a rundown.
The Sooners did add another run in the bottom of the third when Gordon balked with runners on first and third after two singles, then two more in the fourth on four singles and a walk. Gordon exited with the bases loaded and two outs as left-hander Luke Harrison was able to escape the jam by striking out Muniz.
Through the fourth inning, the Longhorns were struggling against Martinez, striking out five times and failing to record a hit. With two outs in the fifth, Texas finally got its first hit of a game, an infield single by Todd, followed by another hit by second baseman Mitchell Daly, but Martinez struck out Campbell on three pitches to quickly end the threat.
In the sixth, the Horns finally got on the board when center fielder Douglas Hodo III hit a bloop double that was misplayed by the right fielder. First baseman Ivan Melendez worked a bases-loaded walk and Stehly drove Martinez from the game with a single into left field.
Right-hander Ben Abram came on in relief and got out of the inning by striking out catcher Silas Ardoin and inducing a weak groundout by third baseman Skyler Messinger.
Harrison got into trouble in his second inning of work, walking the leadoff batter on a full count, then leaving the game after giving up a bunt single. When right-hander Marcus Olivarez came on, he was able to get the lead runner on an attempted sacrifice, but then left a pitch up and over the plate to Graham and gave up the three-run home run that blew the game open. Graham’s run was the first Olivarez has allowed this season.
Texas wasn’t ready to go easily into the Sunday afternoon sunlight in Arlington, however. Todd led off with a single and Daly followed with a walk, then Campbell came through with his second home run of the series — and the season — sending a hanging slider into left-field seats to cut the Oklahoma lead to 7-4.
With Abram pulled for right-hander Keegan Allen, Faltine drew a walk on four pitches. After another ball to Hodo, Allen was lifted by Skip Johnson in favor of right-hander Javier Ramos, who proceeded to walk Hodo himself, then committed a balk while facing Melendez, who struck out looking on a full count. Stehly picked him up, though, hitting the inning’s second three-run home run out to left field.
In the top of the ninth, Texas benefitted from a massive mistake as the Oklahoma left fielder and center fielder collided on a relatively routine fly ball from Hodo. Melendez quickly came through with his first hit of the series, a single up the middle to score Hodo and take the lead.
Stehly followed with a single of his own as the Longhorns tried to add another insurance run and Ardoin loaded the bases when he was hit by a pitch. The score moved to 10-7 when Todd hit an 0-2 pitch up the middle to score two more runs in the inning and then to 12-7 when Daly doubled down the left-field line.
Right-hander Coy Cobb gave up a run in the ninth after a leadoff double, but didn’t allow any further damage, picking up the victory and showing himself capable of more high-leverage appearances with two strong innings of work.
Texas returns to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday with a midweek game against UTRGV.