The No. 9 Longhorns (28-8, 11-6 Big 12) took over the conference lead from the No. 10 Sooners (29-10, 8-6 Big 12) with 7-3 and 6-2 wins on Saturday, taking both games in the doubleheader.
Texas met the Oklahoma for a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, looking to make a move in the Big 12 standings. Only one and a half games behind the Sooners entering the series, the Longhorns needed two wins to move into first place in the conference and behind the strong performances of the pitching staff and the offense as a whole, that’s exactly what they got.
“We really feel like we’re playing together as a team offensively, defensively and on the mound right now,” said senior third baseman Michael Torres. “Everything is coming together”.
Game one started out just as the Longhorns wanted it to, with Chance Ruffin on the mound and on his game.
“It’s always the most exciting game when you’re playing against a rival,” said Ruffin. “I came out a little nervous against them just because I was so excited. I was just ready to get after them”.
Ruffin struck out ten on the day, one short of his career high, and improved to 6-2 on the season, going 6.1 innings and giving up only three earned runs. Even more than that though, he set the tone for the afternoon, keeping the Sooners off balance and limiting their scoring opportunities.
The Longhorns on offense came up with some big hits early, putting five runs on the board in the second inning. Tant Shepherd got the inning going with a walk and was followed by Kevin Keyes, who was hit by a pitch. Cameron Rupp got the Horns on the board with an RBI single into right and Brandon Loy followed with a double over the head of the left fielder to plate both Keyes and Rupp, making the score 3-0. Connor Rowe reached on a throwing error from the shortstop and Travis Tucker was hit, loading the bases for Michael Torres, who popped out to the third baseman for the second out of the inning. With Brandon Belt up and the bases still loaded, OU starter Andrew Doyle threw a pitch to the backstop that brought in Loy and an overthrow from the catcher back to the pitcher at home plate allowed a hustling Rowe to cross as well. The Longhorns finished the second with the score 5-0.
The Sooners got on the board in the fourth with a longball from Aaron Baker, which made the score 5-2, but the Longhorns would respond.
Tant Shepherd had the Longhorns threatening again in the sixth when he led off with a single into center field and moved to second on another wild pitch from the Sooners. Keyes followed with a single putting runners on the corners with Rupp at the plate. Rupp didn’t record an RBI, but got the run across by grounding into a double play.
In the seventh the Sooners put a run on the board with back-to back doubles. Add on to that a single and Longhorn starter Ruffin was chased from the mound. Senior right hander Austin Wood came in to try and stifle the Sooner rally. He hit the first batter he faced, loading the bases with one out in the inning. The next batter reached on a fielding error by Brandon Loy but the lead runner who had crossed home plate was called out because of runner’s interference. It was a questionable call and Sooner head coach Sunny Golloway ended up getting tossed for arguing with the umpire. The Horns escaped the inning as Wood induced a ground ball for a 6-4 putout at second base. Due to a hard slide at second tempers were flared and the benches cleared but the coaches and umpires were able to keep the situation under control and the game moved on.
The Horns weren’t finished putting runs on the board and they did a little more damage in the bottom of the eighth. Moldenhauer was hit by a pitch and replaced by Mickan as a pinch runner. Shepherd followed with a single and was replaced by a pinch runner, Tim Maitland. Keyes logged an RBI single to close out the scoring for the Horns.
The senior, Wood, held the Sooners at bay over the final 2.2 innings to record the save, his ninth of the season.
Game two was more of the same for the Longhorns and they put runs on the board early and often. Michael Torres got things going with one out in the bottom of the first inning with a double to the wall in right field. With two outs Tant Shepherd lined a ball into left center for an RBI single, making the score 1-0 Texas.
The Horns added to their total in the second inning when a single from Connor Rowe plated Preston Clark, who had reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Torres added to the Longhorns lead with his second double in as many innings, driving in Rowe and making the score 3-0.
The Longhorns came back in the third with another run on an RBI single from Rupp to drive in Shepherd who had reached on a single of his own.
The Sooners scored their first run of the ballgame in the top of the fifth but the Longhorns responded in the bottom half of the inning. With a runner on Rupp turned on an offering from pitcher Jeremy Erben and deposited it in the parking lot in left field, lengthening the lead to 6-1.
The Sooners added another in the sixth but that would be all for that the Longhorn staff would allow.
In game two, the Longhorn pitchers enforced their will on the Sooners and it started with Cole Green. Green went 4.1 and gave up one earned. He was followed by freshman Austin Dicharry who recorded the win, pitching 2.2 innings and improving to 5-1 on the season. Wood came in once again with his second appearance of the afternoon and finished the game out in a non-save situation with two innings of shutout ball.
“These were two of the best games we’ve played all year,” said Rupp. “But we still have to come to the ballpark tomorrow focused and ready to play”.
The Longhorns will be looking for the sweep Sunday and are scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Brandon Workman will have the start for the Longhorns and Garrett Richards will be on the mound for the Sooners.