Baseball: It Takes 20 Innings, But Horns Get 'W'

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Freshman Nick Peoples (Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock) produced a bases-loaded sacrifice fly that sparked a five-run frame in the top of the 20th inning to lift No. 1 Texas (33-4, 7-2 Big 12) to a 10-6 victory in 20 innings over Kansas State (20-11, 2-5 Big 12) in front of 874 fans at Frank Myers Field/Tointon Family Stadium on Friday, April 9.

While the win extended UT's current win streak to six games, the contest saw the Longhorns use 23 players and KSU utilize 20 in a matchup that was in excess of six hours in duration and did not end until the early-morning hours of Saturday, April 10. Notably, the 20-inning game was not only the second 20-inning tilt in UT history as the Horns pulled out a 7-6 win in as many innings against Rice during the opening-round of the Southwest Conference Tournament on May 15, 1981, but was also the longest continuous game on Texas record as the contest with the Owls was suspended and continued the next day. Additionally, the game also marked the longest league contest since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1997.

Texas jumped in front 2-0 in the top of the third with a pair of two-out runs as Taylor Teagarden (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview) and J.D. Reininger (Spring Branch, Texas/Smithson Valley) came through with a double and a single to left, respectively, to plate a pair of scores after Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas/Boerne) had reached second via a fielder's choice bunt and a stolen base. The Wildcats would answer with a run in the bottom half of the frame to cut their deficit to 2-1 as Zach Troilo led off with an infield single, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on a double down the left field line off the bat of Jason Long. KSU then knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Heinrich tripled to right to begin the inning and scored on a one-out, RBI-single to right from Ryan Saltzgaber.

From there, J.P. Howell (Sacramento, Calif./Jesuit/USC) and Kansas State starter Brett Bagley held the respective offenses in check until the top of the seventh when the Horns loaded the bases with one out on a leadoff walk and two hit batters before Hunter Harris (Tulsa, Okla./Metro Christian Academy/Connors State College) , who entered game as a pinch-hitter, laced a two-run single up-the-middle to stake UT to a 4-2 advantage. The Horns then tacked on a solo run in the eighth as David Maroul (Benbrook, Texas/ Western Hills/Grayson CC) connected on his first career home run to build a 5-2 Texas lead. Now trailing by three, Kansas State placed two on with no outs courtesy of a base hit and a walk in the bottom of the eighth before Steve Murphy doubled in both runners and then scored himself on a throwing error off a ground ball from Sean Danielson to tie the score at 5-5. Following a scoreless top of the ninth, the Wildcats received a leadoff single from Terry Blunt and moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but Kyle Yates (Kerrville, Texas/Kerrville Tivy/Midland College) came on in relief and retired the two batters he faced around an intentional walk to end the threat and send the game into extra innings.

After the Longhorns worked out of a bases-loaded situation with two outs in the bottom of the 10th as Sam LeCure (Centertown, Mo./Helias Interparish), who came on in relief in the frame with two runners on and one out, rolled a groundout and registered a strikeout to move the contest into the 11th frame. While Texas had the bases loaded with two outs in the 11th inning and put a runner on third with one out in the top of the 12th, Kansas State managed to get out of both frames with the score still tied at 5-5. Despite scoring opportunities for both sides, including two more bases-loaded chances for UT and a runners on the corners situation with two down for KSU in the 16th that was stymied by a diving catch down the line at first base by Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock), the contest eventually made its way to the 20th inning. In the top of the 20th, the Longhorns again managed to load the bases, but this time with no outs as Curtis Thigpen (Forney, Texas/Forney) led off with a double that was followed by a single from Teagarden and a walk to Harris. Peoples then delivered a sacrifice fly to center before Wheeless and Drew Stubbs (Atlanta, Texas/Atlanta) produced consecutive RBI-hits to score three more runs and Michael Hollimon (Dallas, Texas/Jesuit College Prep.) came through with a sacrifice fly to put Texas on top by a score of 10-5. Failing to give in, KSU rallied for back-to-back hit to begin the bottom of the 20th and then received a RBI-single with two outs from Murphy to pull within 10-6, but Kyle McCulloch (Houston, Texas/Bellaire), who came on in relief during the 16th, persevered for the final out to give the Longhorns their sixth straight win. While McCulloch, who fanned two over the final 4.1 innings, improved to 5-0 on the year with the win, Wildcats reliever Eric Rollins shouldered the loss despite striking out eight over 5.2 innings and throwing over 100 pitches.

Paving the way for the Texas offense, which collected a season-best 21 hits, were Thigpen, Teagarden, Harris and Carson Kainer (Tomball, Texas/Tomball), who each collected three hits on the night while combining for five runs scored and three RBI. Kansas State, meanwhile, had its lineup led by a trio of multiple-hit performances, including a two-hit night from Murphy that included one run scored and three RBI. Additionally for the Longhorns, Thigpen extended his current hit streak to seven games with his team-leading 15th multi-hit game of the year, freshman Randy Boone (Yoakum, Texas/Yoakum) matched his career high for strikeouts with five over 5.2 innings of one-hit relief between the 11th and 16th innings, and Howell collected seven strikeouts over six frames in his eighth start of the season.

The Longhorns and Wildcats continue their three-game conference series at Frank Myers Field/Tointon Family Stadium on Saturday, April 10 at 2 p.m.

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