Here's a quick look, with plenty of notes, quotes and highlights from the Texas Longhorns' 2-1 loss to the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners in front of 6,411 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin on Friday night.
Augie Garrido's club has struggled to make things happen with runners in scoring position this season.
How the Sooners (26-5, 6-1 Big 12) Won
The Texas pitchers played well, but Oklahoma was able to come up with base hits in two key rallies to get the win on Friday. The Sooners struck early with back-to-back one-out base hits in the first inning setting up an easy sacrifice fly opportunity for Big 12 RBI leader Matt Oberste. Parker French (3-2) got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and then cruised until the sixth when he allowed a hit and walk before being pulled for Ty Marlow. The Texas reliever surrendered a single to Anthony Hermelyn, scoring Hector Lorenzana for what would be the game-winning run.
How Longhorns (16-12, 2-5 Big 12) Lost
Stop me if you've heard this before, Texas lost because it couldn't come up with a key hit with runners in scoring position. The Longhorns finished the night 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Texas had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth and failed to get a run across, and runners on second and third with one out in the sixth and again failed to make something happen. Timely hitting has been a huge problem for this bunch all season, and when it goes up against a quality pitcher like Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray (6-1) it's incredibly hard for it to find runs.
We'll hand this to Gray even though it wasn't his best outing. The OU starter still managed to go 6 1/3 innings, spreading out seven hits and two walks while striking out eight. The lone Texas run was unearned. Texas hit Gray well - the seven hits allowed were a season high - but the junior got important outs when he needed, and none more so than the fastball he blew past a watching Alex Silver on his 100th pitch to pick up the second out of the sixth when the Horns had the bases juiced. He was using a lot of off-speed pitches on Friday, but when he went back to his hyped fastball it was as good as advertised.
It Was Over When...
Texas couldn't take advantage of having runners in position to score in the sixth and the seventh. Sure, there was plenty of outs left for the Longhorns to get the one run they needed to tie the game, but when four golden opportunities came and went to tie or take the lead against the conference's top team, it felt as good as over the rest of the way.
Texas left fielder Mark Gottsacker made just his second collegiate start Friday night and picked up his first hit as a Longhorn in the bottom of the third, he finished 2 for 3 with a run. The freshman from Dallas Highland Park reached on a single to center and would score Texas' only run with some smart, alert base running. On a deep fly to center by Ben Johnson, Gottsacker tagged from first to put himself in scoring position. That would prove to be huge after a passed ball and wild pitch allowed him to eventually cross the plate for the first time as a collegian.
From the Department of the Redundancy Department, Texas couldn't hit with runners in scoring position. It's a growing trend that's making a lot of people around the program scratch their head. The Longhorns hit Gray more than anybody else has all season yet only got one run across all night. Texas had the tying run on third base and couldn't get him home on four tries at the plate.
I'll say it was leaving Jacob Felts in the game to bat to start the ninth inning. With the Longhorns down by a run and only three more outs to work with, Augie Garrido let his catcher who was 0 for 3 - and who came into the game batting just .205 - take the first at-bat of the final inning. There were other options on the bench Garrido could have turned to to try to find some pop, but Felts got the call and went down swinging.
The disappointment is the heartbreaking loss for the Longhorns. Four of Texas' five conference losses have been by two runs or less, and after the game Friday night it's apparent that the team is in desperate need of pulling out one of these close wins for a confidence boost. It really all comes back to timely hitting, and you have to think eventually the ball will start to bounce Texas' way at least some of the time.
Stat(s) of the Night
0 for 6, nothing else needs to be said.
Story of the Night
The teams on opposite ends of the Big 12 standings aren't that far apart in terms of ability. The two teams are both quality ball clubs with great pitching. Oklahoma, however, has turned that into a 6-1 start to conference play while the Horns sit at just 2-5. The story of the night is Texas being unable to bring runners home, the story of the season will be whether or not that trend ever changes.
Augie Garrido on lack of timely hitting:
"We missed our opportunities, we all saw that. It continues to be a pattern that we follow. We get individual hits during the game, but don't get the momentum changer. The harder we try the worse it'll get, and sooner or later we'll get that hit. As soon as we do then the confidence in those situations will go up."
Augie Garrido on the feeling in the locker room after another disappointing loss:
"I think they're realistic and I think they know that the coaches are on their side and support them and are gonna hang in there with them. There isn't a bunch of blame or any of that stuff."
Augie Garrido on what the message was to the players after the game:
"What I said is we played hard, we did our best, we didn't give in, we didn't give up, we faced a real good pitcher and we battled him. And we did."
Parker French on his arm:
"It felt good out there. It felt real good."
Mark Gottsacker on his performance:
"It's my second start. Something that you kind of learn on the bench watching is that when you get your opportunity you make all of it. You just go out there and just play as hard as you can.
Mark Gottsacker on his performance:
[i]"It is extremely frustrating. We've just got to keep doing the same thing - keep going out and grinding. We played extremely hard today, I think everyone was proud of the way we played just not about the outcome. There's something to hang your hat on that you're playing hard, you know that you gave it your all and that's all we can do."
Already have an account? Sign In