Baseball: Texas Opens Okie State Series With A 'W'

Behind a seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance from junior J.P. Howell and having its offense score five runs with two outs on the day, No. 1 Texas (27-3, 3-1 Big 12) topped Oklahoma State (16-8, 0-1 Big 12) by a score of 8-4 in front of 4,639 fans at Disch-Falk Field during the opening contest of a three-game league series on Friday, Mar. 26.

Notably, with the victory, Texas has not only won 16 of its last 17 games, but has also notched 17 consecutive wins at Disch-Falk Field dating back to 2003.

The Longhorns opened up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning as Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas/Atlanta) hit a ground-rule double to right field to bring home Carson Kainer (Tomball, Texas/Tomball), who reached on a double down the left field line and moved to third on a wild pitch to make it a 1-0 game. Continuing with the offensive momentum, the Horns added two more runs in the bottom of the third as Michael Hollimon (Dallas, Texas/Jesuit College Prep.) led off the inning by lining a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his second home run of the year, while Taylor Teagarden (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview) singled up the middle with two outs to score Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas/Boerne), who reached on a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.

In the top of the fourth, a single from Rod Allen followed by a double by Rusty Ryal and a walk drawn by Josh Fields with no outs loaded the bases for the Cowboys. Howell then struck out the next batter he faced with a pitch in the dirt that got by Teagarden and allowed Allen to score, putting Oklahoma State on the board. After another walk loaded the bases again, Howell retired the next two batters he faced on a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning with the Horns still leading 3-1. With their lead cut to two, UT immediately answered with a two-out run in the bottom of the fourth as J.D. Reininger (Spring Branch, Texas/Smithson Valley) led off with a single through the left side, moved to second on a sacrifice-bunt, stole third and proceeded home off a bloop RBI-single from Hollimon to make it a 4-1 ballgame.

The game remained quiet for the next two innings as each starting pitcher was able to set down the sides in order. Then, in the top of the seventh, Oklahoma State threatened by placing runners on first and second with one out via a single by Scott Kirby and an error, but Howell was able to retire the next two batters to keep the score 4-1. In the bottom of the frame, Texas came up with two more runs as Hollimon singled to left and came home on an RBI-double from Hunter Harris (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy/Connors State College), who would later score on a single from Curtis Thigpen (Forney, Texas/Forney) to give the Longhorns a 6-1 advantage.

The Cowboys would respond with three runs of their own in the top of the eighth as Allen began the frame with a solo home run over the left-center field wall to make it a 6-2 game. A hit-by-pitch followed by a double off the bat of Fields would then place runners on second and third before a groundout from Jason Jaramillo and a single from Ty Wright plated another two runs to cut the OSU deficit to 6-4. However, Texas reliever J. Brent Cox (Bay City, Texas/Bay City) was able to quell the rally by not allowing another run to score following a flyout and a fielder's choice ground ball.

In the bottom of the eighth, Texas loaded the bases with no outs via a single, a hit-by-pitch, a balk and a walk before Robby Hudson (Redlands, Calif./Riverside CC) drove in Kainer from third with a single to left and a wild pitch brought home Reininger to make it 8-4 in favor of UT. From there, Cox kept the Cowboys off the board in the top of the ninth by retiring three of the four batters he faced to earn the save. Picking up his sixth win of the year was Howell, who worked seven innings and fanned eight, while Cowboy starter Thomas Cowley incurred the loss. On an additional note, Howell has now won his last five starts and tossed a minimum of six innings while striking out at least eight during each of those starting assignments.

Leading the Longhorns' offense, which tallied 11 hits on the afternoon, was the trio of Hollimon, who went 3-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored, Kainer, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Reininger, who went 1-for-3 while scoring twice. On the other side of the ledger, the Cowboys were paced by Allen, who went 2-for-5 while accounting for two runs and a RBI, and Wright, who collected one hit and drove in one run.

The Longhorns and Cowboys continue their three-game series at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday, Mar. 27 at 2 p.m.

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