Texas Takes Opener From Oklahoma
Wheeless' hit streak is at 9 (W. Gallagher/IT)
Wheeless' hit streak is at 9 (W. Gallagher/IT)

Posted Mar 30, 2007


NCAA home run leader Kyle Russell gave No. 9 Texas the lead for good in a tough 4-3 decision against No. 17 Oklahoma at Disch-Falk Field Friday. His first-ever solo shot over the 'green monster' center field wall broke a 2-2 deadlock in the bottom of the fifth.

"I got a good piece of the bat on the ball," Kyle Russell told Inside Texas in the post-game dugout. "The wind help it a little bit, but I put a lot into it. It went pretty far. I'm just going up there, seeing it and hitting it. I'm not making it more complicated than it needs to be. If they lay it up there for me, I'm going to try as best as I can to hit it. Right now, it's a very happy time for me."

RHP James Russell (6-2) notched the win after allowing two runs on six hits while striking out seven during 5.2 innings of work. Randy Boone earned a Big 12-leading eighth save of the season, yielding one hit while fanning two in 1.1 innings. RHP Stephen Porlier shouldered the loss for the Sooners to see his record fall to 4-2.

Overall, Texas improved its mark to 24-8, 6-1 in Big 12 play. OU fell to 21-7, 2-2 in league play.

"It was the toughest game we played all year," Texas coach Augie Garrido said, "and our players stood up to the challenges. We're pleased that we won, but it's obvious that we played on a very even scale tonight."

Chance Wheeless went 2-for-3 at the plate to extend his hitting streak to nine games. The Horns tallied nine hits on the evening and, after committing seven errors in the past two contents, played error-free ball on Friday.

Texas drew first blood in the bottom of the second. Preston Clark reached on a fielders choice before Josh Prince singled to left. Travis Tucker became the second hit-batsman of the inning to load the bases with two down. Wheeless' well-placed bunt-single down the third base line plated Clark for the first run of the ballgame. The decision to bunt was a call that Wheeless made on his own.

"He's a real headsy player," Garrido said. "We try to take advantage of what the defense will give us and find the simplest way to get the job done. He saw that the third-baseman was way back, and he felt he could do that. If a player doesn't put that on himself, it never works."

Oklahoma knotted the affair in the top of the third with Joseph Hughes first-career solo shot, but the Horns got the run back on a pair of hits in the home-half of the frame, beginning with Bradley Suttle's leadoff double. Kyle Russell singled to right before Russell Moldenhaur walked to load the bases. Clark grounded into an RBI fielders choice, giving the Horns a 2-1 lead. But the Sooners manufactured one run on three hits during a two-out rally in the top of fourth. OU hitters battled back from consecutive 0-2 counts to force the second tie of the contest before Russell record his fourth strikeout.

Texas regained the lead in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the fifth. That's when Russell absolutely crushed a 1-0 changeup and became just the 36th batter in the 32-year history of Disch-Falk Field to clear the Monster. The sophomore's monster-shot was his NCAA-leading 17th home run of the year, just three shy of Jeff Ontiveros’ single-season school record set in 2002.

The Sooners threatened in the top of the sixth when Joe Duningan singled, stole second and advanced to third on a one-out wild pitch. James Russell recorded a crucial second out with a called strike at the knees before RHP Pat McCrory made his ninth appearance of the season. The JC-transfer, who began the season as the starting SS, forced a deep fly-out to center to end the inning.

One could argue that Jordan Danks single-handedly produced the game-winning run in the seventh. He got things started when he lined a 3-2 ball into right before stealing second. (Danks is now 20-for-20 during his Longhorn career for stolen bases). He advanced to third on Bradley Suttle's ground-out and then scored on a balk. Texas now held its first two-run lead of the contest, 4-2.

LHP Keith Shinaberry relieved McCory with one-down and one-on in the Sooner eighth. After recording a four-pitch strikeout, Shinaberry's work was done as closer Randy Boone took the mound to face DH Devin Shepherd. A wild pitch and an RBI-single pushed a Sooner run across the plate. Boone forced a groundout to get out of the inning with Texas nursing a 4-3 lead. The Horns were retired in order in the bottom of the frame with reliever Nich Conoway recording the final two outs.

Boone returned the favor by retiring the Sooners in order, ending the game on a call third-strike.

The second game of the weekend series is set for 2 p.m. (CDT) Saturday. RHP Adrian Alaniz (7-1, 1.89 ERA) is expected to take the mound for Texas while OU is slated to counter with LHP Heath Taylor (5-0, 2.06 ERA).


Related Stories
Alaniz Shuts Down Sooners
 -by HornsDigest.com  Mar 31, 2007
Horns Go Yard Against Owls
 -by HornsDigest.com  Mar 28, 2007
Audio: Interview with Kyle Russell
 -by HornsDigest.com  Apr 3, 2007

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