Oklahoma head coach Sunny Galloway told his team before the game: “We’re gonna make history today and stop a ten-year drought.”
The Sooners (21-9, 3-3 Big 12) did exactly that, beating the Texas Longhorns (25-9, 7-2 Big 12) by a score of 5-2 on Sunday. Oklahoma hadn’t won a game in Austin since March 28, 1997, but the history of the series mattered little to an OU team that is significantly better than in years past. Galloway would have liked to take more than just one from Texas, but says wins are always hard to come by at Disch-Falk Field.
“This is a tough place to win and that was as good of three-game series as I’ve been a part of,” said Galloway.
Oklahoma jumped out on Texas early, the Longhorns then retook the lead, but a deadly three-run fifth put Texas behind for good. After the game, Texas left fielder Jordan Danks expressed his frustration.
“It seems like we just run out of innings every time we get behind,” said Danks.
Danks said the problem is that the Longhorns, at times, actually try too hard when they’re behind rather than relaxing and playing the way they should.
“When we try bad things happen for us,” said Danks. “We need to just come out here and play like we know how.”
Texas head coach Augie Garrido agreed that the mindset that the Longhorns often display in those situations must change for the Horns to be successful.
“It was demoralizing, but if that’s all it takes for you to drop off, you’re not a very good baseball team,” said Garrido.
The Texas bats had their troubles, but the pitching staff had problems as well on Sunday. Texas sent out Joseph Krebs to start the game. Krebs came into the contest undefeated and with a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (36 and 6), but had primarily worked as a relief pitcher, with Sunday being only his third start of the season. Krebs only pitched the first four innings and gave up seven hits and two earned runs.
OU took an early 1-0 lead, but Texas quickly rectified the situation in the bottom of the fourth. The most dangerous part of the Texas lineup, Danks, Bradley Suttle and Kyle Russell were up and the Longhorns battled into an ideal situation for Russell, Texas’, and the NCAA’s, leader in homeruns. There was one out and a runner on third; that means it’s time to swing for the fences. Russell’s long fly ball didn’t clear the fence in right center (it might have in a ballpark more friendly to long ball hitters), but it was plenty far enough to allow Danks to trot home for the tying run.
Catcher Preston Clark was up next, but his shot to left would have cleared any fence in baseball. Clark’s crushing swing sent the baseball over the left field wall, over the Texas bullpen and even over the street, landing in the grassy knoll adjacent to Disch-Falk and bouncing into the parking lot. Texas left the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead.
Another pair of OU runners made it onto base in the top of the fifth and Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson pulled Krebs in favor of relief pitcher Keith Shinaberry. The sophomore submariner proceeded to strike out OU’s top hitter, Joe Dunigan, but Oklahoma first baseman Aaron Baker singled to left field, scoring Aaron Ivey and tying it up at two (Oklahoma has three starters named Aaron. It gets confusing.).
Shinaberry was pulled for Pat McCrory, but things continued going downhill for Texas. Oklahoma scored another pair of runs on a two-RBI single from shortstop Aaron Reza (there’s the third Aaron) and Texas found itself down 4-2.
Texas could get little production from its hitters as the game continued. The Sooners, on the other hand, extended their lead no matter which pitcher Texas threw at them. In the top of the eighth, Oklahoma catcher Jackson Williams knocked a solo homerun over the left field wall off of Texas’ Austin Wood to take the OU lead up to 5-2.
Texas couldn’t put a dent in Oklahoma reliever Nich Conway, who closed out the remaining four innings for Oklahoma. Starter Joseph Hughes got the win for OU and is a 5-1 on the season. Shinaberry pitched only two-thirds of an inning for Texas, but was saddled with the loss after a runner he was responsible for getting on base scored the go-ahead run off McCory. Shinaberry is a 0-2.
With a 7-2 record in conference play, Texas is well out in front in the Big 12, but Danks says the Horns need not worry about records and ranks right now.
“It’s still a pretty good start, but we’re thinking about it too much,” said Danks. “We need to relax and just play the game how we know how to play.”
Garrido said the loss is tough, but in the grand scheme it’s only a bump in the road.
“You lose baseball games. It’s not like football where you have to win every one of them,” said Garrido. “It’s a game that’s so complex that so many little things enter into it that it’s hard to know what relates to the final outcome.”
Texas will spend their days off going over each of those little things so they don’t cause losses like they did Sunday.
The Longhorns next host UTSA on Tuesday at the Disch at 6:05 p.m. Texas’ next Big 12 Conference series is in Lawrence, Kan. against the Kansas Jayhawks starting on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.