Kyle Russell went long.
Chance Wheeless went short.
The Texas pitchers successfully went in and out.
And it all mattered.
The Longhorns needed every advantage they could get Friday, as they played long ball and small ball to upend Oklahoma 4-3 in the opener of a three-game Big 12 Conference baseball series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
“When it’s a one-run game, everything kind of plays into it,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “You really can’t separate one thing from the other.”
Every time Texas (24-8, 6-1 Big 12) went ahead, Oklahoma (20-8, 2-2) came back.
Wheeless, the team’s best bunter, took a chance and laid down a perfect bunt single with two outs and the bases loaded to give Texas a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
“It wasn’t the typical situation to bunt in — bases loaded, two outs — and nobody was expecting it,” Wheeless said. “So with a good bunt and reasonable speed, anybody can make it to first.”
Garrido said it was a heads-up play.
“If the player doesn’t put that on himself, it never works,” said Garrido, who will send Adrian Alaniz to the mound at 2 p.m. today to face the Sooners. “If I put it on, it scares the hell out of them.”
Oklahoma came right back in the third with a home run from Joseph Hughes.
The game was tied 2-2 in the fifth inning when Russell laid into a pitch and became just the 32nd person in Disch-Falk history to hit a home run over the center-field monster.
As Russell was heading back to the dugout after his 17th homer of the season, he got a hug from catcher Preston Clark, who accomplished the feat earlier this year.
Was it a welcome-to-the-club hug for something so few have accomplished?
“No, I don’t think so,” Russell said. “That’s just how Preston and I roll. We’re good like that. We’re always attached at the hip.”
That was enough for Texas’ James Russell (6-2), who pitched five-plus innings before turning it over to the bullpen, as the Horns’ staff outdueled Oklahoma starter Stephen Porlier (4-2).
Porlier helped the Longhorns extend the lead in the seventh.
With Jordan Danks on third, Porlier briefly pulled his hands apart while standing on the mound. The balk gave Texas a 4-2 lead.
“What was unfortunate about that is we were getting ready to have him step off because we were going to (Nich) Conway right there,” Oklahoma coach Sunny Galloway said. “I was up, tipping the cap, getting ready to go, and I heard, ‘Balk.’ ”
That was the advantage Texas needed as Pat McCrory, Keith Shinaberry and Randy Boone combined to give up one run in the final three innings.
McCrory’s 1 2/3 innings allowed the Horns to use Shinaberry against left-handed power hitter Joe Dunigan in the eighth inning with a runner on base. Shinaberry struck him out and handed the ball over to Boone, who picked up his eighth save.
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