Horns Blast Bears, One Win From Title Game

Texas (40-18) beat Baylor (34-24), its second opponent of the conference tournament, on Thursday, leaving only Nebraska between the Horns and the Big 12 Championship game. The bats were definitely alive in the 16-8 win for the Longhorns.

Last game, Texas won with solid defense and lockdown pitching.

That was last game.

This time, every single Longhorn got a hit, scored a run and hit an RBI in the ballgame as Texas totaled 20 hits…almost three times as many as in the tourney opener.

Along with giving the Horns a 2-0 record in the round robin and the inside track at advancing to the championship game, the win also means Texas is bucking a trend. No. 1 seeds have not preformed well in recent Big 12 Tournaments. Last season, the No. 8 seed Tech knocked off No. 1 seed Nebraska to open tourney play. A year earlier in 2004, the last time Texas played as a No. 1 seed, the Horns dropped a 5-2 decision to the No. 8 seed Huskers. And No. 8 seed Texas A&M also pulled the upset trick in 2002 with an 8-4 win over the No. 1 seed (and eventual national champion) Texas.

This year's Longhorn squad has, instead, won its first two games of the tournament.

Hunter Harris, starting in the lead-off spot for the second game in a row, scored the first run for Texas in the top of the first off a Carson Kainer single. Although the Horns plated only one run in the first, it was just a precursor as Texas scored four runs in the second inning. Three of the runs came on a Drew Stubbs homerun. Stubbs hit his 52nd, 3rd and 4th RBI of the season with his three-run shot.

Baylor, showing some power of its own, hit two homeruns off Riley Boening to score their first four runs of the game, but Texas responded in turn to Baylor's runs by putting up seven runs in the top of the fourth. The eight hits in the inning were more than Texas managed in its previous game, when the Horns defeated Texas Tech, 4-0, primarily on the arm of Kenn Kasparek.

Baylor added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth on another homerun, this one by shortstop Beamer Weems.

After a scoreless fifth (one of only two scoreless innings in the contest), Texas began to pile up the runs again. In the top of the sixth inning, Bradley Suttle scored on a Kyle Russell triple that bounced around in the leftfield corner. Chais Fuller then brought Russell home on a single to take a 14-6 lead.

During the bottom half of the sixth, the Bears threatened by loading the bases with one out. Baylor third baseman Kevin Russo hit a SAC fly to bring home Chase Gerdes. It was the first run scored by Baylor that wasn't a homerun. After Seth Fortenberry drew a walk to load the bases again, Kevin Sevigny flied out to Stubbs in centerfield to end the inning and get the horns out of the jam.

Wheeless led off the seventh inning with single when he beat out the throw to first base. Then Carson Kainer came to the plate and got a homerun of his own, blasting the ball over the leftfield wall to give Texas the 16-7 lead. Baylor managed one more run in the bottom of the ninth, before Austin Wood struck out pinch hitter Seth Hammock for the final out.

Kyle Walker (4-1) got the win for Texas. The freshman left-hander gave up three runs on one hit in his two and a third innings of work. The pitcher of record for Baylor was Ryan LaMotta (6-6). LaMotta gave up ten runs, six of them earned, on eight hits in three and one-third innings.

Texas is off Friday and will play Nebraska on Saturday at 1 p.m. If the Horns defeat the Huskers, they'll play in the Big 12 Championship game on Sunday. If the Longhorns lose, they still have a chance to make the title contest depending on how the other teams on their side of the bracket finish.

Nebraska takes on Texas Tech at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. If Nebraska wins, the Longhorns must beat the Cornhuskers to reach Sunday's championship game. If Texas Tech wins, then goes on to beat Baylor and Texas loses to Nebraska, it would result in a three-way tie and the Longhorns would advance because they are the highest seed. If Tech beats Nebraska and loses to Baylor, Texas must still beat Nebraska as the Cornhuskers would hold the head-to-head victory over the Horns with a win…phew. This is the first season the Big 12 has used the pool-play format for the conference tournament.

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