Baseball: Horns stay alive in Big 12 Tourney

ARLINGTON -- <B>Dustin Majewski</B> likes hitting in The Ballpark in Arlington. He likes it so much, he's obviously not quite ready to go home.

The junior, in his first centerfield start of the season, collected three hits and three RBI after a three-hit, two-RBI performance on Wednesday night. Against Oklahoma State, though, unlike vs. A&M, Majewski's hitting prowess resulted in a Longhorn victory.

Michael Hollimon's RBI single in the top of the eighth broke open a 5-5 tie and Majewski, with a bases loaded, two-RBI double three batters later, provided the (needed) insurance runs for closer Huston Street, who went an unusually long 2-2/3 innings for his third W of the season, in the Horns' 8-6 triumph over the Cowboys.

"Dustin Majewski again was the big bat in the line-up," Augie Garrido said.

Majewski delivered his big eighth inning hit after OSU coach Tom Holliday elected to load the bases with one out for Majewski instead of having pitcher Daniel Rew face Omar Quintanilla with men on second and third. Majewski responded with a stroke down the left field line that was, ultimately, the game-winner.

"I wasn't surprised," Majewski said of the OSU coach's decision to load 'em. "It set up the double play. That's just baseball. I'm just glad they did."

"I told coach (Frank) Anderson that this kind of defines the season," the Texas head coach said. When things are going well for a team, Garrido said, that load-the-bases decision results in a double play. When things aren't going so well, the batter gets a hit and drives in the runs. Majewski's hit highlighted the divergent Big 12 fortunes of Texas (44-14, 20-9) and Oklahoma State (37-21, 13-15).

"It was a percentage play," Garrido added. "This time (OSU) lost the percentages."

Despite its late night and early morning at The Ballpark against A&M, the percentage game of facing a team for the fourth time after three straight regular season wins didn't catch up with Texas against the Cowboys like it did against the Aggies.

"This game was a difficult game from the standpoint of coming back from last night's late-night extravaganza," Garrido said of the 11-hour turnaround time between Thursday's start and Wednesday night's loss to A&M. "I think the players got focused and did what they needed to do to stay in the tournament."

Texas struck first, pushing across a single run in the top of the second when J.D. Reininger doubled to the base of the right center field wall to score Brandon Fahey, who had singled to lead off the inning.

Oklahoma State answered, and then some, in the bottom of the third. Catcher Matt Oakes got things going for the Cowboys with a one-out bunt single up the third base line, followed by a Jeff Salazar walk and a Brian Kraft single to left to load the bases. A Brad Halsey wild pitch brought home Oakes to tie the score at one and then Josh Fields delivered a two-out, two-RBI double to give OSU a short-lived 3-1 lead.

The Horns regained the advantage in the top of the fourth, turning singles by Jeff Ontiveros, Matt Rosenberg, Reininger and Ryan Hubele and a sac fly by Hollimon into three runs and a 4-3 lead.

Halsey got into trouble again in the home half of the fourth. After retiring the first two batters in the inning, the Texas starter surrendered a single and then two walks, forcing pitching coach Anderson to call on Jesen Merle to snuff out the potential Oklahoma State rally. Merle did just that, getting Kraft to ground out to Ontiveros to end the inning with no damage done.

Merle held the Cowboys scoreless in the fifth but in the sixth he gave up a leadoff double to pinch hitter Zach Cates, a walk and a sac bunt that put runners on second and third with one out for reliever Eugene Espineli. Cates scored on a Salazar groundout but Espineli then forced Kraft into an inning-ending flyout to preserve the 5-4 Longhorn lead.

Espineli couldn't do the same in the seventh. Fields, who went three-for-five and drove in three runs on the day, crushed the UT reliever's 2-0 offering deep into the left field seats to tie the game at five. After Espineli gave up a single to center, Street took over, retiring both batters he faced to send the game to the eighth knotted at five.

Street, though, wasn't immune from the long-ball bug that afflicted his mound-mates Merle and Espineli. Jake Bollig sent a Street bottom-of-the-eighth pitch into the right field bleachers to trim the Horns' three-run advantage, earned in the top of the eighth by Hollimon's and Majewski's hits, back to two runs at 8-6.

Texas will take on the loser of Thursday night's winner's bracket game between OU and A&M Friday evening at 7 p.m. in another elimination game. A win in that one will send the Horns into action Saturday, where they'll have to win two straight to reach Sunday's tourney finals.

Horns Digest Top Stories