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Texas wins share of Big 12 title with sweep of No. 6 West Virginia

An improbable finish to the season allowed the Longhorns to win their third conference title under David Pierce.

Texas baseball

Head coach David Pierce and the Texas Longhorns swept the No. 6 West Virginia Mountaineers to end the regular season and earn a share of the Big 12 title with West Virginia and the No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

By sweeping the Mountaineers and getting some help from the Sooners in Bedlam, the Longhorns were able to overcome a three-game lead by West Virginia and a two-game lead by Oklahoma State in the conference standings to earn the No. 1 seed in this week’s Big 12 Tournament. Pierce now has three regular-season titles in his seven years on the Forty Acres.

Entering the season, Pierce said he wanted a Texas team that lost a tremendous amount of talent and production to “be good early and great late.” With a retooled coaching staff and a handful of newcomers, the Longhorns finished the season on a five-game winning streak to move up to No. 23 in the RPI and earn a regional bid as the No. 16 seed in the projections.

Since Oklahoma State and West Virginia both still have higher RPIs than Texas, the work isn’t done for the Horns with the conference tournament looming, but after season lows like the three opening losses to SEC teams in the College Baseball Showdown, the series loss on the road to Cal-State Fullerton, and Oklahoma’s sweep of Texas in Austin, finishing with a share of the conference title rates as a significant accomplishment, even for a program with such high expectations.

And even though West Virginia arrived on the Forty Acres knowing they could finish with no worse than a share of the Big 12 regular-season title, Texas won at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in dominant fashion, outscoring the Mountaineers 29-9 over the three-game series.

In the 12-2 win on Thursday, left fielder Porter Brown became the seventh player in program history to hit three home runs in a single game and left-hander Lucas Gordon was dominant on the mound, striking out eight over seven shutout innings while allowing only four hits and one walk. Brown finished the game with four hits and eight RBI.

The 10-4 win on Friday featured another big-time pitching performance, this time from right-hander Lebarron Johnson Jr., who struck out 12 over 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Among the 11 hits for the Longhorns were four home runs by four different players, including right fielder Dylan Campbell, who was 2-for-5 with a double, two RBI, three runs scored, and two sensational plays in the outfield to complement his 12th home run this season.

On Saturday, Texas used a four-win first inning to take command in a 7-4 win that included Campbell extending his program-record hitting streak to 33 games with a double and a triple. Even more encouraging, right-hander Tanner Witt picked up a second straight win with three strikeouts over three scoreless innings before five more Longhorn pitchers helped secure the sweep.

Pierce’s team finishes the regular season third in the Big 12 with a .302 batting average and 83 home runs, first in ERA at 4.06, and tied for first with a .980 fielding percentage — it’s a well-rounded team that improved throughout the season and now has a chance to make a postseason run that few expected when it wasn’t clear before the season if the Longhorns were merely reloading or faced with the type of rebuild season that are as rare as they are unacceptable on the Forty Acres.

Texas opens the Big 12 tournament at Globe Life Field in Arlington on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Central against Kansas on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.