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No. 20 Texas eliminated from Big 12 Tournament with 6-0 loss to Kansas State

Things went exceedingly poorly for the Longhorns in Arlington.

Texas baseball

The No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament is the first team heading home as the No. 20 Texas Longhorns fell 6-0 to the Kansas State Wildcats on Thursday at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

The elimination after only two games almost certainly ensures the Longhorns will have to travel for the regional round of the NCAA Tournament following a trip that included first baseman Jared Thomas and third baseman Peyton Powell struggling through back issues and left-hander David Shaw leaving Thursday’s game with an elbow issue. Reliever Heston Tole didn’t travel with the team to Arlington.

Texas only recorded two hits in the loss to Kansas State while stranding nine runners, going 0-for-13 with runners on, 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and 0-for-9 with two outs. Beyond a solid performance by starter Lebarron Johnson Jr., the only other positive for the Longhorns was right fielder Dylan Campbell extending his hitting streak to 35 games in the eighth inning, tying the conference record.

After several impressive performances recently, Johnson struggled some in the first inning, allowing a leadoff double followed by two one-out singles that scored a run and kept the pressure on the Texas starter. Johnson was able to limit the damage and get out of the inning by inducing a soft comebacker that started a 1-6-3 double play.

The Longhorns were able to put runners on first and second with two outs in the second inning, but a flyout by second baseman Jack O’Dowd ended that modest threat as the danger of getting deep enough into the game to face Wildcats closer Ty Neighbors gradually increased.

As Johnson settled in on the mound, another two-out rally fell short for Texas in the third inning, once again stranding runners on first and second even though the Longhorn were yet to record a hit.

The trend continued in the fourth inning when the Kansas State right fielder dropped a routine fly ball hit by Texas center fielder Eric Kennedy, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. For a third straight inning, the Horns couldn’t break through, ending the fourth with Kennedy stranded and still without a hit.

Opening the fifth inning, shortstop Mitchell Daly recorded the first hit for Texas, a ball that went off the glove of the Kansas State third baseman. A sacrifice bunt by first baseman Jared Thomas advanced Daly to second base, but a groundout by designated hitter Peyton Powell and a flyout by Campbell ended the inning with the Longhorns still unable to come through with a two-out hit.

The inability to get to starter Ty Rhul resulted in Texas having to face Neighbors starting in the sixth inning. Left fielder Porter Brown was able to draw a one-out walk, advanced to second on a passed ball, then stole third before before Neighbors struck out third baseman Jalin Flores, the seventh fruitless at bat for the Horns with a runner in scoring position.

After cruising through five consecutive innings, Johnson exited after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh. Shaw quickly got into serious trouble, allowing a walk and an infield single to load the bases with no outs. A flyout in foul territory recorded the first out, but Shaw had to leave the game with an elbow issue after falling behind 3-0 to the next batter. Right-hander Charlie Hurley wasn’t able to salvage the at bat, walking in the game’s second run before giving up an RBI single and then walking home another run. With Kansas State leading 4-0, right-hander Zane Morehouse entered the game with the bases loaded and one out. A two-run double to left field extended the margin, although the runner at first was thrown out easily trying to score.

In a sign of how things went for Texas in Arlington, O’Dowd reached base on a full-count walk in the seventh, but was thrown out at second base when a wild pitch caromed off the backstop and right back to the catcher.

With Neighbors on the mound, the moribund Longhorns offense was never able to get untracked and ultimately departed Arlington with only 11 hits over two games, four of them by O’Dowd on Wednesday.