Longhorns Capture Tournament Title

Rupp's blast put the game out of reach

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - An eleven-run fourth inning propelled the Texas Longhorns to a 12-7 victory over the Missouri Tigers on Sunday, giving UT its second Big 12 Tournament championship in as many years. Burnt Orange Beat was on-hand to provide coverage.

For the Texas offense, there's just something special about Bricktown Ballpark.

Over the last two years, the ‘Horns have averaged just under ten runs per game during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.

"It's a lot smaller than Disch-Falk, I can tell you that," said senior Preston Clark, a veteran of Bricktown. "The wind blows more. We just come out here and play baseball and try to play as well as we can."

On Sunday, Texas' dominant offensive performance in Oklahoma City continued, as an eleven-run fourth inning propelled UT to a 12-7 victory over Missouri, giving Texas its second Big 12 Tournament championship in as many years.

The Longhorns gave the starting nod to right-hander Brandon Workman, who spent much of the season as a weekend starter.

Workman's command wasn't perfect—as he threw 59 pitches in three innings—but he surrendered just one run on one hit while striking out five batters. The sophomore did exactly what the Longhorns had asked of him.

Missouri starter Scooter Hicks matched Workman through the first three frames, allowing only a solo home run to Preston Clark. The round-tripper was Clark's first of the season.

He was happy to see the ball clear the fence.

"Honestly I felt like Big Papi," said Clark, comparing himself to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who recently broke a 149 at-bat homerless streak. "I've hit eight home runs the past couple of years and next thing you know, late in the season, I haven't hit anything. So to get that out of the way and get that pressure off of you, it's awesome."

Missouri coach Tim Jamieson sent Hicks back out for the fourth inning, and that's when things got interesting.

The left-hander plunked first baseman Brandon Belt and allowed a seeing-eye single to third baseman Michael Torres.

Because Hicks is generally a reliever, Jamieson went to the bullpen, calling on Ian Berger, who had thrown six innings just two days earlier.

Berger struggled to find the strike zone, walking two batters and allowing a two-RBI single to Connor Rowe.

The control issues continued for the next reliever, Ryan Clubb. He gave up a run-scoring single to Clark, got Russell Moldenhauer to hit a sacrifice fly for the inning's first out, and hit Rowe with a pitch, loading the bases once more.

Jamieson then signaled for sidearming lefty Phil McCormick, his fourth pitcher of the inning. McCormick hit leadoff man Travis Tucker with a pitch, bringing home a run. After Brandon Belt reached on a fielder's choice—for the second out—cleanup hitter Cameron Rupp stepped to the plate.

Rupp delivered by crushing a grand slam to centerfield, immediately erasing the Tigers' hopes and giving Texas an 11-1 lead.

"I didn't even think it was going to get out of the ballpark," Rupp said. "I knew I got it good off the bat and I wasn't sure if it was going to be high enough. It happened for me. It was awesome."

The inning still wasn't over.

Freshman shortstop Brandon Loy tripled to left field, and he was doubled home by Kevin Keyes, extending the Longhorns' lead to 11 runs.

Rupp's big blast was the exclamation point of the inning, but as Longhorns coach Augie Garrido points out, it was a team effort.

"We concentrated through a lot of players in a row and took good, quality at-bats one right after the other," Garrido said. "What we remember, of course, is the grand slam home run. But to set all of that up and to make all of that work, it took a lot of teamwork."

After the game, Loy, who went 9-for-13 on the week, would be named the Big 12 Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He says the honor could have gone to a number of his teammates.

"It's an honor to get that award," he said. "I wasn't really expecting it. There were a lot of other people that deserved the award too. I'm glad I got it, but most of all I'm just glad that we could come out and win the tournament."

The Tigers made a small comeback against UT reliever Austin Dicharry in the top of the fifth inning, scoring three runs on a walk, an Austin Holt RBI triple, a Ryan Lollis single and a Greg Folgia sacrifice fly.

Cole Green—the Longhorns' game one starter—followed Dicharry, and he cruised for three innings. The sinkerballing righty kept Missouri from scoring in the sixth through eighth innings, and ended any realistic hope the Tigers had of a comeback.

Mizzou plated three more runs in the ninth inning off Green and closer Austin Wood, but it was far too little, too late.

The Longhorns took home their fourth Big 12 Tournament championship and their second in as many years.

Although his team had just completed a clean sweep of the Big 12's two championships, Garrido was already looking forward to his team's next challenge—an NCAA Regional.

"I've already kind of moved on a little bit," said Garrido. "I'm getting ready for practice this coming week and getting ready for the regionals."

In addition to earning the hardware, Garrido believes the tournament provided yet another leaning experience and opportunity for improvement.

"I think from the tournament, we have to take away the adversities," he said. "We gave away some bases that we don't want to give away, so we need to work on those kinds of things.

"It just reveals things that we need to work on and sharpen up before we play the regional. That's the value of it."

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