Longhorns drop series finale with Sooners

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Freshman outfielder Tyler Rand knocked in two runs for Texas in the series finale against Oklahoma, but the Longhorns lost the game and the series.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Texas entered Sunday’s contest against Oklahoma with a chance to win its second straight Big 12 series. A loss on Friday night was redeemed with a 5-3 victory on Saturday, and the Longhorns looked to find some momentum in what had previously been a disappointing season.

But the Sooners — along with Mother Nature — had other ideas. With the score tied at 3-3 in the ninth, Oklahoma had a man on first with one out. Sophomore closer Connor Mayes induced a pop-up into foul territory on the first base side, an easy play for junior first baseman Kacy Clemens. However, there was nothing easy about this pop-up. A gust of wind blew the ball past Clemens, causing it to drop in fair territory.

An intentional walk loaded the bases with just one out, placing Mayes in an undoubtedly difficult jam. Mayes couldn’t escape, allowing a single along with the winning run. Oklahoma took the game 4-3, along with the series. And in a season full of them, Sunday was another difficult loss for head coach Augie Garrido’s squad as Texas’ season record dropped to 12–16.

Texas trailed from the outset. After going down 1-2-3 to begin the game, sophomore Kyle Johnston gave up a solo shot to Oklahoma junior shortstop Sheldon Neuse. For the second time in the three-game series, a first inning home run put Oklahoma ahead. But unlike Friday — where the Sooners cruised to a 6-1 victory — Texas fought back.

Clutch hitting fueled Texas throughout the early part of Sunday’s matchup. With two outs in the top of the third, freshman outfielder Tyler Rand rocketed a double to left center, scoring junior Zane Gurwitz from second. After three, the score was knotted up at 1-1. 

Rand replicated his two-out heroics in the fifth. A single up the middle scored sophomore catcher Michael Cantu, putting the Longhorns up 2-1 — but the lead wouldn’t last. 

After Johnston issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth, Neuse hit a routine ground ball to shortstop. But the traditionally sure-handed freshman Kody Clemens couldn’t field the ball cleanly, allowing Neuse to reach base. 

With men on second and third, Johnston was replaced by senior reliever Travis Duke. Duke, the rubber-armed senior, made his team-high eighteenth appearance on Sunday. But after helping secure the victory on Saturday, Duke couldn’t stem the tide. 

Upon entering the game, Duke promptly surrendered a single down the left field line. The base hit scored two Sooners, tying the game at three. 

After two innings of inactivity, the Sooners scored in the ninth, giving them the series victory. Once again Texas had an opportunity to get back on track on Sunday. And once again, that chance slipped through their fingers.