They couldn’t bunt or sacrifice runners over.
They walked too many batters (six) early in the game.
They didn’t run the bases well.
The Texas Longhorns did everything in their power early on to help Oklahoma State pull closer in the Big 12 baseball standings.
They overcame it, though.
The Longhorns strengthened their grip on first place in the conference thanks to great relief performances by pitchers Joseph Krebs and Randy Boone, who recorded the final out with the tying run on third base as Texas pulled out a 3-2 victory over Oklahoma State on Friday at Reynolds Stadium.
“This was one of the most competitive games we’ve had this season,” said Texas coach Augie Garrido, whose team has a 3 1/2-game lead in the Big 12. “Both teams made mistakes, us with bunting and sacrificing, them with baserunning.”
The Cowboys’ most costly baserunning blunder came in the ninth, after Boone, who picked up his 11th save, walked the leadoff hitter.
After Texas forced out the lead runner at second on an attempted sacrifice, Cowboys leadoff hitter Keanon Simon singled on a ball under first baseman Chance Wheeless’ glove. OSU’s Martin Beno moved to third on the play.
But Simon, looking to head to second on Kyle Russell’s throw to third base, became caught in a rundown, and the Longhorns executed it perfectly, with Travis Tucker finally tagging out Simon.
“That was something we’ve practiced for maybe 10 minutes this season, and it paid off because everybody executed it perfectly,” Wheeless said.
Boone retired Ty Wright on a groundout to short to end the game.
Texas (35-12, 15-4 Big 12) took the lead in the seventh inning thanks to Nick Peoples, who led off with a triple.
After Clark walked, Cowboys relief pitcher Justin Friend was called for a balk, giving Texas the lead as Peoples scored and Clark advanced to second.
It was a lucky break for the Longhorns, who struggled to score. Tucker was picked off first base in the sixth, and twice Longhorn runners were doubled up.
“It was a championship-type game,” Garrido said, “and we were able to overcome those things.”
Texas fell behind in the fifth inning, when starter James Russell walked two batters and plunked another, which led to two OSU runs. The Longhorns fought back as Russell Moldenhauer put them on the board in the fifth inning, slamming a 1-1 pitch over the right-field fence.
He crossed home plate screaming, “Let’s go! Let’s go.”
Texas added another run in the sixth inning, as Wheeless drilled a ball to the same spot, tying the game at 2.
The Cowboys (31-11, 10-6) threatened in the sixth inning, when reliever Pat McCrory came in and walked two batters, who were sacrificed to second and third on a bunt.
After McCrory came up with a big strikeout of pinch hitter Steve Ptak, Krebs entered the game and struck out Keanon Simon to end the inning. Krebs (6-0) struck out two more in the seventh and another in the eighth, pitching a perfect 1 2/3 innings.
“That’s not going to happen too often,” Krebs said of the strikeouts. “They were just swinging at a lot of pitches.”
When Krebs left, Boone took over, striking out the final two batters in the eighth and finishing it off in the ninth
“Any close game is going to be good for relievers,” Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson said. “Our bullpen did a great job coming into a tough atmosphere. That’s really going to help down the road.”