Baseball: Horns take another pitching duel

For Saturday's game two of the three-game weekend series with Oklahoma State, Texas sent 11-0 <B>Justin Simmons</B> with his 2.17 earned run average to the hill, and the Cowboys countered with 6-0 <B>Chris Reilly</B> with his similarly stout 2.53 ERA. With those two undefeated pitchers squaring off at the Disch, one perfect record figured to find its first blemish.

The way Simmons and Reilly pitched, neither one deserved that first L, but largely due to one second inning pitch, Reilly got it.

Dustin Majewski provided all the offense the Longhorns would need with his two-run smash over the right field wall in the bottom of the inning. And despite the fact that the Horns only threat after the second came in the sixth, when Ryan Hubele and Majewski put together back-to-back two-out singles before Eric Sultemeier lined out to left to end the potential rally, Texas had just enough O, because of its D, to hold off OSU.

Oklahoma State scored its only run of the game in the top of the fourth when Nebasett Brown's ground rule double to right plated Daylon Monette from second.

Aside from that, Simmons and four Texas relievers, with some help from the guys in the field, ruled the day. Simmons worked seven innings, surrendering just five hits and the one earned run in the fourth. Brantley Jordan, Jesen Merle and Eugene Espineli each faced and set down one batter in the eighth and Espineli retired the first two challengers in the ninth before pitching coach Frank Anderson gave the ball to his closer Huston Street for the final out and his fifth save.

"Frank found the match-ups he liked between the hitters and the pitchers," Augie Garrido said. "He was aware of how to manage the pitchers down the stretch and protect against the one run and make it hold up. Our single greatest strength is pitching, and he used it."

The Longhorns in the field assisted the guys on the mound with several outstanding defensive plays. LF Sultemeier, cutting off what looked to be a sure extra-base hit down the left field line, gunned down Rob Watson at second to squelch a potential OSU rally in the seventh, and 2B Tim Moss, ranging to his right, gloved Brown's ninth inning lead-off grounder and, throwing from one knee, tossed out the speedy second baseman stopping another potential Cowboy rally before it started.

"Everybody is interacting with a lot of confidence on defense," the Texas head coach said. "That's why we're so consistent."

"When you lead the nation in ERA and in fielding, you're gonna be able to win some 2-1 ballgames," Garrido added.

With its seven consecutive conference win, Texas improved to 36-11 overall and 14-6 in Big 12 play (and lowered its nation's best ERA to 2.43). Garrido, though, knows that a conference title is not yet in the bag for his bunch.

"I think it'll go down to the end, to the percentages, to the last weekend," he said. "Everybody is still in striking distance."

Sunday, the Horns will look to keep their distance from second-place Nebraska (13-9), which will play two vs. Kansas on Sunday, in the series finale with the Cowboys. Texas will send Alan Bomer (6-2, 3.86 ERA) to the mound for the 1:00 game.

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