When the then-No. 14 Texas Longhorns entered the weekend series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field against the rival Oklahoma Sooners, the Longhorns were in first place in the Big 12 standings and well-positioned to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament. A series win looked probable against the conference’s last-place team with Texas riding high after the 20-0 midweek win over Abilene Christian.
And then disaster struck with the Longhorns dropping Friday’s opener 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel and then losing Saturday’s doubleheader forced by the potential of inclement weather over the weekend. In roughly 24 hours, Texas dropped 13 spots in WarrenNolan.com’s live RPI, from No. 21 to No. 34, significantly hurt the chances of opening the NCAA Tournament in Austin, then eventually fell out of D1Baseball.com’s Top 25 on Monday while sliding to a fourth-place tie in the conference standings.
Left-hander Lucas Gordon gave the Longhorns a chance to win on Friday, pitching 7.0 innings while allowing one run on six hits with nine strikeouts and two walks. But left-hander David Shaw wasn’t able to maintain the tie game, giving up a full-count single and then hitting the next batter with the first pitch before allowing a sacrifice bunt that put runners on first and second with one out. Right-hander Heston Tole came on in an attempt to limit the damage, lasting only two batters when he induced a flyout and walked the bases loaded on a full count. Left-hander Ace Whitehead wasn’t able to overcome another full count, walking in the go-ahead run.
At the plate, Texas only struck out twice, but right fielder Dylan Campbell was responsible for stranding three of the seven runners left on base for the Longhorns. A triple by first baseman Jared Thomas was the only extra-base hit of the evening for Texas and he was stranded on third.
The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader went ugly early. Right-hander Travis Sthele back it through the first inning before completely losing his command, walking the first three batters in the second inning and departing in favor of right-hander Zane Morehouse. The pitching change didn’t exactly pay off as runs scored on a wild pitch and a passed ball before Morehouse issued a walk of his own on a full count. Oklahoma went on to score three more runs in the inning on only two hits to make it 5-0.
The Sooners added three more runs in the bottom of the third, but left-hander Chase Lummus came on for the Longhorns and steadied the game in the longest appearance of his career, eventually pitching 5.0 innings, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
Texas tried to mount a comeback, scoring one run in the third, fourth, and fifth innings before breaking through for three runs in the sixth. Unfortunately for the Horns, reliever Carter Campbell pitched well for a second straight game, earning his first save of the season by limiting Texas to one hit over the final 3.1 innings.
The lack of a reliable starter behind Gordon was apparent in the second game of the doubleheader when right-hander Kobe Minchey gave up four runs in 1.2 innings on two hits and three walks. Once again, the bullpen was able to keep the Longhorns within striking distance, especially right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr., who gave up one run on three hits with six strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
Scoring single runs in four separate innings gave way to a scoreless stretch over the final four innings as the bats went silent thanks to a strong appearance from Oklahoma reliever Will Carsten, who struck out seven and allowed only one hit in 3.2 innings of work.
Texas Southern comes to the Disch on Tuesday for the midweek game before Texas faces a massively important weekend series against TCU in Fort Worth.