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Longhorns beat Missouri, move closer to Big 12 title!

Adrian Alaniz

They talk about picking each other up like it’s a job.

So late Friday night after the emotional fireworks following a 7-6 loss to Missouri, Texas pitcher Adrian Alaniz sent Preston Clark a text message.

“Keep your head up. I’m going to need you,” Alaniz’s text said.

Clark, the Longhorns catcher, was upset because his error in the 11th inning allowed the winning run to score. Saturday was different.

Clark had three hits and scored two runs, and Alaniz continued his dominant pitching as the Longhorns beat Missouri 5-1 in front of 4,971 fans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

If the Longhorns beat the Tigers today, Texas will claim its second consecutive Big 12 regular-season title. If Missouri wins, the Longhorns will need any future combination of two victories or Missouri losses to clinch the title.

“This feels so much better,” Clark said. “My teammates put last night’s loss as a team loss, but I thought it was my fault.”

There was no finger pointing after the Horns evened up the series. Alaniz (12-2) threw 8 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and a run on 118 pitches.

Alaniz worked inside and battled as he has all season.

That’s the approach Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson preaches.

“Adrian’s performance was really big today, because he allowed us to save the bullpen after we used them Friday,” Johnson said.

Alaniz received the offensive support he needed in the fourth inning, when Bradley Suttle singled, Clark doubled and, two batters later, Chais Fuller knocked in both of them with a two-out single.

Fuller, who was 3 for 4, knocked in Clark again in the sixth inning, when Texas scored three more runs to take a 5-0 lead. The final runs came when Kyle Russell knocked a two-run single between first and second base with two outs.

“The difference in the game was that we had two chances with two outs and we couldn’t come through. They had two chances with two outs and they came through,” Jamieson said.

Russell thought it was more than that.

“This win really showed something about our team after last night,” he said. “We all went home and went to bed early and came back here ready to fight for a victory. And that’s exactly what we did.”

For Texas, the only negative from Saturday’s game was an injury to outfielder Jordan Danks, who bruised his shoulder when he ran into the wall making a critical catch in the fifth inning. The Tigers had the bases loaded with two outs when Danks made the play .

“It’s not separated, it’s just bruised,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “How long he’s out will depend on how much it swells up.”

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Longhorns fall inches short of victory against Missouri!

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.

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Austin Wood named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week!

Austin Wood

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Austin Wood, Texas, LHP, So., Kingwood, Texas, Kingwood
Wood went 2-0 on the week with a 0.75 ERA in two starts. He held Oklahoma State’s offense scoreless for six innings, scattered three hits with two walks while striking out three as Texas earned the first-ever three-game sweep of OSU at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The Cowboys came into the three-game series with the conference’s highest batting average and most runs scored. Wood’s pitching contributed to handing the Cowboys thier its first shutout at Reynolds Stadium in nine years. In Texas’ game on Tuesday, Wood held UT-Pan American to one run on four hits while striking out five over six innings.

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Texas in firm control of Big 12.

Austin Wood

This wasn’t supposed to happen. No matter how things went at Oklahoma State, Texas wasn’t going to come away with a sweep.

After all, the Cowboys never had lost more than two consecutive games at Reynolds Stadium since it opened in 1981. They’d destroyed opponents, winning 693 of 831 home games.

Teams didn’t come to Oklahoma State and dominate.

But Texas did.

The fifth-ranked Longhorns took full control of the Big 12 Conference by finishing off a three-game sweep of the No. 13 Cowboys on Sunday, with a convincing 7-0 victory in front of 2,200 fans at Reynolds Stadium.

“That means a lot,” Texas’ Kyle Russell said. “That means we can be a very tough team against a good opponent in a tough environment. And this was a tough place to play.”

But not much of the expected happened this weekend.

Instead of a slugfest between the top two offenses in the best hitter’s park in the conference, the teams combined to score just 21 runs.

Instead of the home run hitters adding to their large totals, it was the little guys coming through. Sunday was the perfect example.

Texas’ Joseph Krebs was expected to start, but after he pitched in relief on Friday and Saturday, the Horns (37-12,17-4) started Austin Wood. Six shutout innings later, Wood (who picked up his sixth victory) gave way to Krebs and Randy Boone, who did the same thing they did in Games 1 and 2: shut the Cowboys (31-13, 10-8) down.

“Aside from scoring runs, our bullpen was the most important aspect of this series,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said.

The bullpen threw 9 2/3 scoreless innings in the sweep. “They’re dealing with the process,” Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson said. “They’re staying within themselves and really keeping focused on going pitch by pitch.”

And Wood, who gave up just three hits and two walks, showed the Horns could count on him against a top-notch opponent.

“If we can start Wood whenever we need him and keep Krebs and Boone in the bullpen, now we’ve got a Division I pitching staff,” Garrido said. “We are a much better team with Wood as a consistent starter.”

The Cowboys were shut out for the first time at Reynolds Stadium since March 13, 1998, when Texas A&M did it in an 8-0 win.

As for the UT offense, the Horns won the series without their top four hitters taking control. Kyle Russell, Chance Wheeless, Jordan Danks and Bradley Suttle went a combined 6 for 45.

Texas, which will take on second-place Missouri (31-12, 12-6) next weekend at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, jumped on Oklahoma State in the third inning Sunday as Chais Fuller and Travis Tucker hit back-to-back singles. Nick Peoples reached on a throwing error to load the bases, and scored on a balk by starter Joe Kent.

Tucker scored on a sacrifice fly by Russell, and after Wheeless walked to load the bases, Suttle worked a walk, allowing Peoples to score for a 3-0 lead.

“This series proved that we’re a team one through nine,” Russell said. “When our big bats aren’t coming through in the clutch, we’ve got other guys who are able to step up and carry us to victories.”

Guys such as Fuller, who took advantage of his first starts at shortstop since the beginning of the season by going 5 for 9. Or Peoples, who was 5 for 10 in the series.

“Baseball is a game of infinite possibilities,” Garrido said.

One possibility continues to get greater and greater: Texas winning its second consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship.

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Moldenhauer’s grand slam lifts Texas to win, 7-2!

Russell Moldenhauer

Russell Moldenhauer hit a grand slam during a five-run fifth-inning outburst as Texas beat Oklahoma State 7-2 on Saturday, the Longhorns’ second win in as many games in a key Big 12 Conference baseball series.

First-place Texas (36-12, 16-4 Big 12) entered the three-game series at Oklahoma State (31-12, 10-7) with a one-game lead over the Cowboys in the loss column. The loss dropped Oklahoma State one game behind Missouri in the league standings.

Corey Brown’s team-leading 17th home run of the season, which followed a single by Ty Wright, gave Oklahoma State a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Cowboys managed only five hits after that.

Texas’ Preston Clark tied the game in the fourth inning with a two-run home run off Oliver Odle (4-4).

In the fifth, Moldenhauer hit his grand slam off reliever Tyler Lyons, and Nick Peoples followed with a solo homer, putting the Longhorns ahead 7-2.

Texas starter Adrian Alaniz (11-2) allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings.

Oklahoma State loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Joseph Krebs relieved Alaniz and struck out Brown and Tyler Mach to end the threat.

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No. 5 Texas takes series opener against Oklahoma State, 3-2

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.”

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Russell hits for cycle as Longhorns rout UT-Pan American!

Kyle Russell

The question is would you rather hit for the cycle or hit a two-run home run in the first inning for three consecutive games?

Some baseball players don’t have to choose. Texas right fielder Kyle Russell accomplished both feats Tuesday night.

Russell’s first-inning two-run homer against UT-Pan American was the beginning of his hitting for the cycle in the Longhorns’ 11-1 victory, which was called in the seventh inning at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The game ended early because UT-Pan American wanted to try to avoid the severe weather sweeping across the state.

Russell, who leads the nation with 24 home runs, tripled in the fifth, doubled in the sixth and singled in Jordan Danks in the seventh to end the game.

“It’s the first cycle I’ve ever hit,” said Russell, who was 4 for 5 with a career-high five RBIs. “To do it at home in front of the burnt orange nation is really special.”

And the first-inning home runs are becoming routine. It’s the same runner on base, in the same inning, ending with the same result.

First Chance Wheeless, the Longhorns’ No. 2 hitter, gets on base, as he did Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. Then Russell hits a home run.

Not only that, but Russell has hit each of the home runs to the same spot in left-center field.

“We were talking about it in the dugout. It’s been amazing. Kyle told me before we went up there that if I got on base, he would knock me in,” Wheeless said.

“I didn’t want to break my promise,” Russell responded.

He didn’t. In fact, Russell drove Wheeless in three times Tuesday, and both players scored in the first, fifth and sixth innings.

“I think he got tired of running today,” Russell joked.

Both the cycle and the home runs have impressed Texas coach Augie Garrido.

“It’s the many miracles of baseball,” Garrido said. “They pop up all the time, like Boston hitting four home runs in a row (against the Yankees on Sunday).”

Russell and Wheeless got Texas (34-12) going, and Austin Wood and reliever Josh Prince shut down UT-Pan American (15-34). Wood gave up a run on four hits in six innings.

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Texas takes advantage of Husker miscues

Joseph Krebs put together his longest start of the season to lead No. 5 Texas to a 6-2 win over Nebraska in Big 12 Conference baseball action at Haymarket Park on Sunday evening. With the win, Texas has won all six conference series on the year.

Krebs (5-0) picked up the victory with his longest career outing. He allowed just two unearned runs in the first inning. For the game, Krebs scattered four hits and four walks while striking out three over 6.1 innings. Boone finished the game with 2.2 innings of one-hit relief. He struck out three of the eight batters he faced.

For the second consecutive game, Texas (33-12, 14-4) pounced early with two runs in the top of the first inning. With one out, Chance Wheeless tripled to the wall in right centerfield and Kyle Russell followed with his 23rd home run of the season, a shot over the wall in left centerfield. With the dinger, Russell moved into 10th place on the Big 12 Conference single season home run list.

Nebraska (23-17, 8-10) responded with a pair of error-aided runs in the bottom of the first to tie the score at 2-2. With one out, Jeff Tezak reached on a fielding error by UT shortstop Michael Demperio. A fielder’s choice by put Andrew Brown in Tezak’s place at first. Jake Opitz drew a walk and another error by Demperio on a grounder by Craig Corriston loaded the bases, setting up a two-run single up the middle by Andy Gerch.

Texas regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Nick Peoples hit a leadoff single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Preston Clark. Travis Tucker hit an infield single to put runners at first and second. Jordan Danks followed with a single to leftfield, plating Peoples. Wheeless kept the rally alive with a single to leftfield driving in Tucker. Russell hit a double to rightfield pushing Danks across. The Longhorns’ fourth run of the inning scored on a fielding error by Nebraska’s first baseman.

Matt Foust (1-2) was saddled with the loss for Nebraska. Foust allowed six runs, five earned on six hits over 1.2 innings.

Russell led UT’s attack, going 3-for-5 with one double, one home run and three RBI. Wheeless went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, one triple and one RBI.

Texas returns to action on Tuesday with a 6:05 p.m. contest against UT Pan American at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

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Texas takes Game 2

Despite gusting winds, a hostile crowd, a bad start and a high pitch count, Longhorns pitcher Adrian Alaniz stayed the same.

Same pitches.

Same focus.

Same result.

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.

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Texas blanked by Nebraska, 7-0!

James Russell (31)

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.

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