OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Huskers scored once in the bottom of the seventh to snap a 5-5 tie and held on over the final two innings as No. 6 Texas lost a tough 6-5 contest to No. 12 Nebraska in front of 6,285 fans at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark during third round action at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament.
With the loss to Nebraska (41-14), the Longhorns (40-19) dropped their first game of the league tournament and were denied from advancing to the tourney championship game on Sunday, May 28 at 1 p.m. Central, which will now pit the Huskers against the winner of the Missouri/Kansas game.
Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas) drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on a two-out base hit from Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) in the top of the first to stake Texas to a 1-0 advantage. One inning later, UT placed runners on second and third with no outs via a single and a double before a safety-squeeze bunt from Chais Fuller (Fairfield, Calif.) established a 2-0 lead. After Nebraska worked out of further trouble in the top of the second with a double play, Nick Sullivan connected on a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the frame to push the Huskers on top by a score of 3-2. Still alive in the inning, NU then strung together two singles around a bloop double to plate two more runs and make it a 5-2 game. Answering immediately in the top of the third, Texas had Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas) come up with a leadoff single and steal second in front of base hits from Wheeless, Bradley Suttle (Boerne, Texas) and Kyle Russell (Tomball, Texas) to score two runs and place runners on the corners with one away. A RBI-groundout from Preston Clark (Rockwall, Texas) then tied the contest at 5-5.
The game settled from there as Nebraska reliever Tony Watson, who entered in the third, and UT starter Kyle McCulloch (Houston, Texas) combined to handcuff the respective offenses through the sixth inning. With Texas going to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, the Huskers received a leadoff single from Brandon Buckman to open inning before he advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit off the bat of Andrew Brown to snap the deadlock and give NU a 6-5 advantage. A bunt base hit followed by an error on another bunt loaded the bases with no outs in the frame to extend the inning for the Huskers, but Randy Boone (Yoakum, Texas) entered the game and not only struck out his first batter, but induced an inning-ending double play to escape the jam. The Longhorns then put together a two-out chance in the top of the eighth as Hunter Harris (Tulsa, Okla.) reached on an error following a single from Fuller, but reliever Brett Jensen got his first batter to ground into a fielder's choice and keep the lead in tact. After Boone stranded two more Nebraska runners in the bottom of the eighth, UT looked to tie the game in their final at bat, but Jensen set down the side in order to collect his 13th save of the season. While Watson, who scattered four hits and fanned four over 5.1 shutout innings of relief, earned his 10th win of the season, Austin Wood (Kingwood, Texas) shouldered the loss in relief of McCulloch, who received a no-decision after turning in a strong six-inning effort.
Leading the UT offense, which tallied 11 hits on the afternoon, were Wheeless, who went 3-for-5 with one run scored and two RBI, Russell, who scored one run and drove in another during a two-hit effort, and Stubbs, who upped his current hit streak to 11 games with a third-inning single. On the other side of the ledger, Nebraska's 12-hit attack was paced by Buckman, who went 3-for-3 with one run scored and one RBI, and the trio of Nick Jaros, Ryan Wehrle and Jake Opitz, who each registered a pair of hits while combining for three runs scored and one RBI.
The Longhorns will now await word from the NCAA Selection Committee with regard to receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament on Monday, May 29 at 11:30 a.m. Central on ESPN. Additionally, UT will also hear about being selected as one of the 16 regional host sites for the tournament on Sunday, May 28 at 2:30 p.m. Central (ESPNews).