Stillwater Survival

Peoples came up big (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas took the first game of a crucial three-game Big 12 series in unorthodox – but effective – fashion, beating Oklahoma State 3-2 Friday night in Stillwater.

Nick Peoples laced a one-out triple to right centerfield in the seventh inning, then scored the game-winning run on a balk by Oklahoma State reliever Justin Friend. Texas pushed its league record to 15-4 (35-12 overall), while the second-place Cowboys fell to 10-6 in conference play and 31-11 overall.

Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cowboys threatened to spoil the night for the Longhorns. Pinch hitter Donnie Webb led off with a walk against Texas stopper Randy Boone, and teammate Dusty Harvard took his place at first place as a pinch runner, setting the stage for the biggest play of the game.

Pinch hitter Matt Lopez attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Texas catcher Preston Clark pounced on the ball and fired to shortstop Chais Fuller at second base for the force out. Cowboys' coach Frank Anderson – the former Texas pitching coach – stormed from the dugout in protest and was almost immediately ejected.

The next batter, Keanon Simon, singled to right field to send Martin Beno (pinch running for Lopez) to third base. However, Simon was caught between first and second and was ultimately tagged for the second out after a brief rundown. Ty Wright then grounded out to Fuller to end the game.

The Longhorns' bullpen was given the bulk of the credit for the win by Texas coach Augie Garrido. Joseph Krebs – pegged to be the Sunday starter for the Longhorns prior to the series – instead threw one and a third innings of shutout baseball Friday against the Cowboys. Boone picked up his 11th save of the year by also shutting out the Cowboys in an inning and a third of work.

The Cowboys took a 2-0 lead with a Rebel Ridling sacrifice fly and a Jordy Mercer RBI single in the fourth inning. Russell Moldenauer's solo home run in the fifth narrowed the OSU lead to 2-1, and Chance Wheeless tied the game the next inning with a solo home run of his own.

Krebs picked up the win, moving to 6-0 on the season. OSU starter Jeff Breedlove fell to 0-3.

Garrido didn't sound too concerned about using his normal Sunday starter in a key relief appearance on Friday.

"That's why this conference is so good at getting you ready for championship baseball at the end of the year," Garrido said. "You learn to fight through adversity, and that's what we did tonight.

"And we can get to Sunday and play poorly and then blame it on using Joseph on Friday night. You can't use that as an excuse. To get the win tonight, we needed to use Joseph and Randy, and that's what we did."

As for the bizarre nature of the game – multiple balks, pickoffs, triples and the like – Garrido had a perfect explanation.

"The only thing predictable about baseball," Garrido quipped, "is that it's unpredictable."

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