April 18, 2009
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The No. 9 Texas Longhorns jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings and held on for a 6-2 win over the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners to claim the second game of a Big 12 Conference baseball twin bill at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday evening.
The win gave the Longhorns the sweep of doubleheader and put Texas (29-8, 12-6) in first place in the Big 12 Conference standings ahead of Baylor and Texas A&M who own identical 10-7 marks after Saturday's action.
Michael Torres started off things for the Longhorns in the bottom of the first with a one-out double to get in scoring position and rounded home to score on Tant Shepherd's single to left center.
Texas tacked on a pair the following inning to take a 3-0 lead after two. Preston Clark reached on a one-out single back at the pitcher, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Connor Rowe's single and scored on an error by the OU centerfielder. After Rowe was caught stealing, Travis Tucker singled to the third base and stole second to put a runner on with two down. Torres worked a full count at-bat into his second double of the game, plating Tucker. Texas' seven hits through two innings were enough to knock OU starter Stephen Porlier out of the game.
UT scored for the third consecutive inning when the leadoff batter, Shepherd hit his second single of the game, advanced to second on Kevin Keyes' sacrifice bunt, third on a wild pitch and came home on Cameron Rupp's single to centerfield.
Oklahoma (29-10, 8-6) took back one of those runs in the top of the fifth. Casey Johnson doubled to centerfield, advanced to third on Chris Ellison's groundout and trotted home on Jamie Johnson's single to trim the Longhorns' lead to 4-1.
After failing to score in the fourth, Texas inflated the cushion to 6-1 in the fifth with two runs off Rupp's fifth home run of the season. With two outs and Brandon Belt on first, Rupp sent the ball sailing over the leftfield fence.
The Sooners added another run in the top of the sixth to reduce Texas' advantage to 6-2. Aaron Baker reached on a bunt single, moved over on a groundout and scored on J.T. Wise's single up the middle.
The Longhorns were led offensively by Torres who went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one RBI, one run scored and one stolen base. Rupp led the team with three RBI in a 2-for-4 performance that included his fifth home run of the season. Eight of the nine Texas starters registered at least one hit. With his single in the fifth inning, Brandon Belt extended his career-high hit streak to 13 games.
Texas starter Cole Green went 4.1 innings, allowing one run and scattering three hits. The sophomore northpaw walked two and struck out two. Dicharry (5-1) pitched 2.2 innings in relief, surrendering one run on three hits, walking one and striking out five to earn the win. Austin Wood preserved the win by holding the Sooners scoreless in 2.0 innings of work. Wood only gave up one hit and fanned four.
Porlier (1-1) was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs on seven hits with no strikeouts or balls in 1.2 innings. Jeremy Erben pitched 5.0 innings for the Sooners, allowing three runs on five hits. Michael Rocha worked a 1.1 scoreless innings to finish the game for OU.
Texas and Oklahoma wrap up the three-game series with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.
Head coach Augie Garrido
On sweeping the doubleheader: It was a big day for us, mathematically and also by the way we played. We showed a lot of improvement and I think that showed up in our consistency and how we kept our rallies alive with two-strike hitting and two-out run scoring. It was a great job of picking each other up on the mound. It was just really good teamwork, very consistent.
On the current status of the pitching staff: At this point in the season, I would say that they've done a great job of picking each other up. Coach [Skip] Johnson's done a great job of giving them confidence and helping them understand their roles. I think he's making timely switches. We were down to six outs when we brought [Austin] Wood in, and four of those six outs were left-handers sitting on the bench. I think his timing, when he's using the pitchers is very good. I think the defense is playing great behind them and both catchers caught good games and called good games. I just think that we're playing with a lot of confidence. Again I repeat, this is a very well-coached, very fine Oklahoma baseball team. We just didn't give many bases. An example would be the strikeout with Preston [Clark] throwing the guy out at second with the short-hop and Tucker catches and makes the tag. We didn't give them bases or extra outs all day long and that's the secret to getting control in this game.
On the crowd's impact on the game: That's hard for me to measure because I'm so focused on what's going on. My job basically is more about keeping the players loose than anything else and keeping them in touch with themselves. How much the crowd affected Oklahoma's performance, I don't know. I know all players 18 to 21 years old, I don't care who they are or where they play, they're a lot more comfortable at home than they are on the road. Environment plays a big part in performances. So just with that general statement, I think the crowd did play a part. I know it probably pumped our players up quite a bit. But we didn't try too hard, we just played.
Third baseman Michael Torres
On the team's current offensive groove: It's definitely important because our pitching staff has done so well all year and we had a hard time offensively helping them out. They were giving up one or two runs and catching a loss. It was tough. We've worked on it all season, just having consecutive at-bats where you're swinging at good pitches and taking the balls, not chasing stuff in the dirt. We've progressively gotten better as the season's gone on and I think it's starting to show. Since we were in Stillwater, I think we've swung the bats great.
On what the doubleheader sweep means to the team's momentum: We've been playing great baseball the last two weeks. Every game, coach says build off it. There's always flaws you have to work on. We didn't play a perfect game but we played a really good game. You pick up the stuff that you lagged in and you stay consistent with the things that you did well, and that's how you keep the ball rolling.
On his personal comfort level at the plate: I feel really good. I feel like I've put some good at-bats together. This week was a little rough for me. In the first game, I swung at some bad pitches. But I had pretty good at-bats the second game and I feel really good.
Pitcher Austin Wood
On any heightened importance involved with the Oklahoma series: Every game's important at this point. Last week in Nebraska, I think I did it too (pitched in consecutive games). Those games are just as important as this game. The jersey doesn't really dictate how important a game is. Coach always talks about how we need to win as many games as we can. We're always trying to pick each other up and get our jobs done. Today, everybody did a great job and we got two wins out of it. That's all we can ask for.
On what the doubleheader sweep means to the team's momentum: We've come a long way. I think that Kansas series was a wakeup call for sure. It's never fun to lose three games in conference, or any time really. Ever since then we've kind of turned things around offensively. Defensively, we kept things going. Our pitching staff has done a great job. It's a total team effort. No one person gets credit. Every single guy does their job when they get out there. We just have to keep things going and we'll be alright.
Sophomore pitcher Chance Ruffin
On winning the doubleheader against Oklahoma: It was a big win, a big two wins. It was pretty good. It's a big series obviously because they're a top-ranked team and we're a top-ranked team. We're definitely clutched to come out and get the first two wins.
On his season-high 10 strikeouts: I came out pretty nervous in the first inning but I had good stuff working. It was pretty effective especially against a high-powered offense. It was a good day.
On playing for the top spot in the conference right now: After last weekend with the sweep and knowing that it was No. 1 versus No. 2 today, this was kind of our chance to jump ahead and be at a No. 1 seed. That's a big deal. If you get Big 12 No. 1, then you're regional bound and super regional bound. This is definitely a big series.
Freshman shortstop Brandon Loy
On winning two games to open the series against Oklahoma: It was two good wins. We came out, played hard, did what we wanted to do and came out with two wins. Hopefully, we can come out tomorrow and do the same.
On what the wins today mean: It was two big wins we needed. It was going to change the standings a little bit but we didn't win or lose a national championship today. We did a good job coming out and getting the win but we still have to come out tomorrow and play hard. We need to play hard the rest of the year and we'll see what happens.
On the hitting today: We came out and hit the ball well today. It's kind of been a struggle for us this year. We haven't been hitting the ball and they [Oklahoma] have been hitting the ball. We showed that we could do it today. We're progressing. Everything's getting better, defensively and offensively.
Sophomore catcher Cameron Rupp
On the two wins against Oklahoma: It was two awesome games, two of the best games we've played all year. Everything was just put together perfectly. The hitting, great at-bat, hit the ball well and hard, scored a lot of runs, defense and pitching, all of it was unbelievable. You couldn't have asked for a better day at the ballpark.
On his home run today: It was just another one. I'm glad to get another one to keep going. Hopefully, I keep getting more but just take it pitch-by-pitch and have good at-bats all the time.
On the hitting today: The way we hit was awesome. We've improved so much over the last month, where we would get three or four hits and win 3-1. Now, we're scoring six or seven runs per game with ten plus hits in the last ten games. We've been hitting the ball well and we want to keep that going. We just want to play good baseball.