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After dropping game one Friday, Texas came back Saturday thanks to the performance from junior Nolan Kingham. After going down 3-1 early Sunday, Texas came back once again.
A three-run fifth and a five-run seventh during freshman Bryce Elder’s efficient four-inning relief victory helped Texas take the series against Oklahoma State, 10-5.
Junior Chase Shugart received the start and gave up three earned runs in a start for the fifth time this season. Shugart faced unique adversity in the third inning but managed to escape with just one earned run allowed.
Oklahoma State knocked a leadoff triple, then Shugart allowed a walk and hit a batter to load the bases. Shugart then forced Dylan Gardner to pop out foul to third. However, Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday had an issue with part the call, and asked the umpires to get together to discuss the call. They returned with the same result but Gardner returned to the umpire meeting for additional discussion.
This didn’t sit well with Texas head coach David Pierce, who left the dugout in mild disgust. As a result, he was immediately ejected. Assistant coach Sean Allen acted as manager for the remainder of the game.
Pierce spent less than 20 seconds asking play to be moved along and was removed from the game, while Holliday discussed his disagreement with the umpires for several minutes.
If Holliday was stalling, the tactic partially worked. Cowboy Michael Neustifter then flew out to right to score a run for OSU.
“I think everyone was just trying to get the game going,” Allen said. “That was the biggest thing. You’ve got a starting pitcher sitting on the mound for, I don’t know the exact time, but it felt like 10 minutes. It was a big point in the game. It wasn’t nobody on, it was a big point in the game.
“Coach, all he wanted to do was get the game going and that’s all that was said.”
Following Pierce’s ejection, Kingham was also ejected and will be unavailable for Tuesday’s game at Texas State.
Elder replaced Shugart trailing 3-1 in the fourth, with Texas’ lone run coming from a sacrifice fly from junior Tate Shaw. From that point, Elder helped stabilize the game for the Longhorns. Over four innings, he allowed five hits, one walk, and allowed no runs.
“Shugart wasn’t himself,” Allen said. “He just wasn’t good, and Elder came in and gave us a shot.”
The performance from Elder opened Texas’ opportunity to come back. Shaw tripled with one out in the fifth, then a two-out double from junior Kody Clemens cut the deficit to one. Junior Ryan Reynolds singled in the next at bat to tie it at three.
Junior Masen Hibbeler tripled to right-center following Reynolds to give Texas a lead it would not surrender.
“You’re not going to come out and crush the ball every game,” Hibbeler said. “We knew that. We knew that we were going to keep playing doing what we do. We just came out and played ball today, and I feel like that’s what got us the win. We just kept playing.”
Texas blew the game open in the seventh with five runs, with Reynolds, sophomore David Hamilton, and junior Jake McKenzie all adding RBIs in the inning.
Oklahoma State got two back in the eighth, but Clemens immediately erased that by sending a ball over the right field fence to Comal St. in the bottom half, his seventh home run of the year. Junior Andy McGuire then closed the ninth.
After suffering through a spectacular outing Friday from Oklahoma State’s Joe Lienhard, Texas battled back over the next two days to move to 15-10 on the season and 5-1 in Big 12 play. Allen moves to 2-0 in situations where he has had to become acting manager at Texas.
“We just made some adjustments in the middle innings and the guys bought in,” Allen said. “It was a huge team win to win on Sunday and to win the series. Congrats to our guys.”
Pierce was not made available to the media after the game.
Seven of eleven Longhorns to have a plate appearance Sunday recorded a base hit, with Clemens’ 3-for-5 performance leading the way. Reynolds, Hibbeler, Hamilton, and junior DJ Petrinsky all added two apiece.
For Elder, he collected his fourth win of the year and moved his ERA down from 6.08 to 4.67. In addition, he has established himself as one of the go-to guys for the staff out of the bullpen in just his freshman season.
“I think Coach Pierce and Coach (Phil) Haig mentally have taught me how to fit in the way I do.” Elder said. “I appreciate that from them.”
His coach noted that same fact while commenting on roles forming for the team six games into conference play.
“Bryce Elder has probably never thrown out of the bullpen his entire life,” Allen said. “He’s been a starting pitcher, and he’s learned his role. It’s good because they can have an idea of what’s happening throughout a game. There’s no doubt the roles are starting to evolve and it’s big for this team.”
Learning that role was no more important than Sunday.
“If he doesn’t do what he does I’m not sure we win the game,” Allen said.
Texas heads to San Marcos on Tuesday to play Texas State before hitting the road to play Kansas State.