Texas Comes Back in Wild Tournament Opener

The top-seeded Texas Longhorns battled to a wild 19-10 victory over eight seed Kansas State in their first game of the Big 12 Tournament round robin, thanks to a 10-run third inning and a six-run eighth.

A pitchers' duel, it was not.

Texas kicked off the 2007 Big 12 Tournament in a big way, beating Kansas State 19-10 after falling behind 4-0 in the early goings and preventing the Wildcats from a putting together comeback of their own.

Kyle Walker got the start for Texas. It was a bit of a surprising move, given the fact that Walker had only pitched 12 and a third innings on the year with a 9.49 ERA.

K-State loaded the bases on Walker in the top of the second and Wildcat Shortstop Eli Rumler singled into left field, bringing home a pair of runs and gave Kansas State a 2-0 lead early in the game. At that point, the Kyle Walker experiment was over. Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson pulled Walker in favor of Joseph Krebs. The senior left-hander hit the first batter he faced to load the bases again, but struck out the next two and it looked like Texas might be able to get out of the inning without any more damage.

But Texas second baseman Travis Tucker mishandled a grounder from Adam Muenster and two more runs scored. The book officially closed on Walker at four runs given up, three of them earned, in one inning of work.

Krebs struck out Byron Wiley to finally end the top half of the second and Texas went into the bottom half of the frame trailing 4-0.

Krebs actually had a brilliant game on the mound. Of course, he was the only pitcher who did in the 29-run slug-fest. The senior pitched five innings, giving up no earned runs off two hits, while striking out five.

The Horns managed to get one back in the bottom of the second, as Nick Peoples singled to center field to bring in Russell Moldenhauer, but Texas still had an uphill battle to get back in the game.

Texas scored again in the bottom of the third, as Jordan Danks scored after he and Big 12 Player of the Year Kyle Russell put up back-to-back triples. Russell then came home when Chance Wheeless dropped down a perfect bunt down the third base line, scoring his teammate on the suicide squeeze, making it to first safely on the play. Suddenly it was a one-run game and Texas was back in business.

Preston Clark singled into right, bringing home Wheeless, and within an inning and a half, Texas had come back from down 4-0 to tie the game at 4. Texas loaded the bases with two outs on the board and K-State reliever Justin Murray walked Tucker to give Texas the 5-4 lead.

However, the Longhorn run did not stop.

A two-RBI single from Danks took it up to 7-4 Texas. The Horns had batted around and Russell came back to the plate with runners on the corner, but Texas scored again before he had a chance to end his at-bat. A balk from Murray brought home Tucker and moved Danks to second, giving Texas an 8-4 lead. Russell walked and Wheeless followed with a single, scoring Danks, which was then followed by another pair of runs on a 2-RBI single from Moldenhauer.

The Texas bats were on fire, but none was better than Danks, and he had some stiff competition. The sophomore left-fielder wasn't retired once the entire game, going three-for-three with four runs scored, two RBI and three walks. Wheeless went three-for-five with four RBI.

Texas put up another pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead up to 13-4. Kansas State was shut out in five consecutive innings on the game, but threatened in the top of the eighth, putting up three runs on reliever Pat McCroy. Texas brought on closer Randy Boone, but the Cats put up another three runs on Boone, narrowing the Longhorn lead to 13-10.

Texas responded to the six-run Kansas State eighth in the top half of the inning with six runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame, including homeruns from both Nick Peoples and Bradley Suttle.

Every Longhorn had a hit and every Longhorn scored in the game.

Texas will face Texas A&M at 4:30 on Thursday. The Aggies, losers of four straight, are the No. 5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament with a 13-13 record in league play. After being swept last weekend by the Horns, A&M lost to No. 4 seed Nebraska 5-3 on Wednesday for an 0-1 mark in the round robin.

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