Clay Van Hook didn’t have a chance.
The ball was there, Missouri catcher Trevor Coleman was in front of the plate and so Van Hook was tagged out inches from scoring the tying run for Texas in the 11th inning on Friday night.
Coleman’s tag ended a thrilling 7-6 matchup between the Big 12’s top two teams in front of 4,851 fans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The play began with Van Hook on first, and Jordan Danks hitting a line drive to right field.
Van Hook took off on contact, and Tigers right fielder Ryan Lollis dived for the ball, which bounced out of his glove and rolled away.
Lollis reached the ball as Van Hook was rounding third.
“I didn’t think he would go home, that’s why I wasn’t running to the ball that fast,” Lollis said. “But I looked up and he was going, so luckily I threw a good ball to the plate.”
The victory brought Missouri, which scored the winning run on an unusual error by Longhorns catcher Preston Clark, closer to Texas in the conference race. The Longhorns (37-13, 17-5 Big 12) need two victories against the Tigers (32-12, 13-6) to clinch the league’s regular-season title. Texas will get another chance to get one at 2 p.m. today.
So should Texas third-base coach Tommy Harmon have sent Van Hook?
“I don’t know,” Garrido said. “That’s something you’re going to have to ask somebody else.”
Harmon probably would do it again.
“I took a chance, and it was the wrong move,” Harmon said. “There were two outs, and I didn’t want to leave the tying run at third base.”
Texas left the winning run on third base in the bottom of the ninth after Clark hit a two-run, two-out single between first and second base to tie the game at 6.
But it was Clark who believed he cost the Longhorns the game in the 11th.
With Missouri’s Kurt Calvert on third and two outs, Clark had just caught a strike from pitcher Randy Boone. He tossed the ball back to Boone, as he had thousands of times before.
This one sailed over Boone’s head, landing just past the pitcher’s mound.
Texas second baseman Travis Tucker picked up the ball and fired it home, but Calvert slid in safely before Clark could get the tag down.
The tough loss overshadowed two more home runs from Kyle Russell, who leads NCAA Division I players with 26.
Russell almost had the game-winner in the 10th, ending the inning by hitting a ball to the warning track in right field.
Chance Wheeless also hit a ball to the warning track in left center to lead off the 11.