When Texas catcher Preston Clark went out to visit starter James Russell in the fourth inning, he hoped to keep things under control.
With two away in the inning, Russell had a 2-0 count to Nebraska’s Ryan Wehrle with runners on first and third.
The meeting didn’t work out so well.
Wehrle launched the next pitch from Russell over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, giving the Cornhuskers a 5-0 lead.
“I knew he was going to come in with a fastball, so I was just waiting for it,” said Wehrle, who was 4 for 5 with four RBIs.
That was how it went Friday for the Longhorns, who lost 7-0 at Haymarket Park.
It was easily the most lopsided showing of the season for Texas. Coach Augie Garrido was ejected, the Longhorns couldn’t touch Nebraska’s Tony Watson, and their pitching couldn’t keep them close to the Cornhuskers (23-15, 8-8 Big 12) in the opener of a three-game series.
Watson threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout without walking a batter.
It was the first time since at least 1998 that Texas had fewer than three hits in a game.
“He was pretty impressive. That’s the best-pitched game against us of the season,” Garrido said. “On the other side of it, it was the total package. We didn’t put the ball in play with any degree of difficulty. Most of the balls we hit were mishit.”
Watson is 2-0 with a 0.64 earned-run average in three starts this season at Haymarket Park and has pitched 14 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings against Texas (31-12, 12-4).
“They were aggressive tonight, and I don’t think my pitch count was all that high,” said Watson, who threw 96 pitches. “If it’s low like that, they’re obviously swinging at pitches early in the count.”
Texas was shut out for the first time since April 23, 2006, when the Cornhuskers beat the Longhorns 6-0.
“It was the perfect storm, that’s pretty much how you can sum it up,” Clark said. “They hit some good pitches, and (Watson) did a good job of mixing speeds and hitting his spots.”
For his part, Garrido didn’t have to witness the whole game, in which Russell gave up six runs and 11 hits in five innings. The Texas coach was ejected in the sixth for arguing that umpire Dave Aschwege missed a call at first base, where he ruled that Travis Tucker’s foot never touched the base to force out Mitch Abieta, who had bunted.
“I didn’t like the fact that (Aschwege) was so aggressive with me,” said Garrido, who came out of the dugout to argue the call. “He got right in my face. He said I got in his, but I didn’t.
“I’m right on the call. Ask the TV guys,” said Garrido, who watched the rest of the game from the CSTV truck outside the stadium.
No matter who was right, Garrido knew Texas must right the ship, having lost two straight games for just the second time this season.
“It’s about responding,” Garrido said. “How do you respond to this? If we accept this as a challenge, maybe we can take this to another level.”
Note: The Longhorns wore maroon Virginia Tech ballcaps to show their support for those associated with the university, which is trying to recover after a 23-year-old student killed 32 people Monday before committing suicide.
The idea to wear the hats came from Texas men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds, a spokesman said. The Longhorns planned to wear the hats only Friday, the same day Virginia Tech played in its first sporting event since the tragedy, a home baseball game against Miami.