Despite gusting winds, a hostile crowd, a bad start and a high pitch count, Longhorns pitcher Adrian Alaniz stayed the same.
Alaniz won his 10th game of the season Saturday, shaking off a rough start to pitch 7 2/3 innings as Texas beat Nebraska 8-4 at Haymarket Park, evening the three-game Big 12 series.
Alaniz (10-2) gave up four runs on seven hits and threw 60 pitches in the first three innings. He looked ready to fall apart.
Instead, he turned everything around, pitching the next five innings without giving up a hit and finished with 10 strikeouts, tying a career high.
“It’s just working from inning to inning, from pitch to pitch,” Alaniz said. “You don’t want to look to the future or to the next inning. It’s just staying within the game, within the process. And I was able to do that.”
It was what the Longhorns (32-12 overall, 13-4 Big 12) needed after Nebraska (23-16, 8-9) shut out Texas 7-0 on Friday.
“It was about responding,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “About how the players were going to respond to last night’s domination. They did a good job.”
The Longhorns, who took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Kyle Russell’s 22nd home run of the season, responded to a 4-2 deficit in the fourth inning. Preston Clark singled in Nick Peoples to cut the lead to 4-3, and with runners on second and third with two outs, the unlikeliest of Longhorns came through.
Shortstop Michael Demperio, who spent the first part of the season nursing a shoulder injury, singled up the middle to give the Horns a 5-4 lead.
“It’s a bonus,” Garrido said of Demperio’s offense. “He’s in there because with (Travis Tucker), we have the widest range on defense up the middle.”
Demperio realized the importance of the situation before it happened.
“I looked at the scoreboard right before I went up there and thought, ‘Oh, man, there are two runners in scoring position,’ ” Demperio said. “I knew what I was looking for, and I got it.”
Texas added two more runs in the fifth inning as Russell (3 for 4) singled and went to second on an error, before scoring on Russell Moldenhauer’s double. Peoples singled to center to score Moldenhauer and give the Horns a 7-4 lead.
“I thought five or six runs would win the game today,” Nebraska coach Mike Anderson said. “We knew Alaniz was going to be tough. He started getting his slider over on the first and second pitch, and that made things real tough for us.”
Alaniz’ effort allowed Randy Boone to pick up his 10th save of the season, as Boone pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings.