Tigers Top Texas In Tourney Opener

Just one game separated streaking Texas and Missouri in the league standings, and the No. 5 seed Horns and No. 4 seed Tigers played as equals through nine innings Wednesday at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. But Mizzou (38-17), unlike Texas (34-20), took advantage of its extra inning opportunity and pulled out a 3-2 win in the bottom of the 10th in the Big 12 Tournament opener.

Box Score

Missouri's Trevor Coleman singled in the winning run after both Michael Torres and Travis Tucker failed to deliver with two on in the top of the frame.

"There wasn't much separation in the teams," Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. "I'm not disappointed in the way we played; I'm disappointed that we lost. Their pitcher did his job and got some key outs. It was a narrow margin of victory."

Despite the narrow margin, this loss could ultimately be more painful than the, shall we say, slightly more lopsided (31-12) loss to the Tigers during the regular season for two reasons. One, the Horns now need wins over Texas A&M tomorrow and Oklahoma Saturday and a lot of help to make the tournament finals and, two, Texas had played itself into contention for hosting an NCAA Regional but is in danger of playing itself back out of contention without wins over both the Aggies and Sooners.

Texas, winners of six straight and nine of 10 coming in, wasted a strong pitching performance from starter Chance Ruffin, who went six-plus innings surrendering two runs on just three hits with 10 strikeouts. Cole Green (3-5), who relieved Ruffin with one on and no outs in the seventh, worked out of jams in the seventh, eighth and ninth, but couldn't close the door on the Tigers in the 10th after giving up a leadoff single and a one-out single that set up Coleman's walk-off heroics. Texas failed to get a hit in four total at-bats with runners in scoring position in the eighth and 10th innings.

"We missed our opportunities to score, but they did too," Garrido said. "It was just as even as the score indicated. They put together the rally they needed in the bottom of the 10th to win it. We were tying to pitch around (Coleman). He hit a ball out of the strike zone and through a hole. He did a good job of hitting right there. We had opportunities and their pitchers rose to the occasion"

Aside from the solid pitching, the Horns also played another error-free game, their seventh in eight games. But as Garrido pointed out, the Missouri pitchers largely silenced the Longhorn bats. Texas managed just six hits vs. the effective and efficient Missouri hurlers. Rick Zagone, who is not a regular member of the Tiger rotation, matched Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Texas ace Ruffin with seven-and-a-third innings of four-hit, two-run pitching. Kyle Gibson (9-1), who shut down the Horns during the regular season in Columbia for one of Missouri's two wins in the series, did so again and picked up another win by shutting out Texas over the final two-and-two-thirds innings.

Texas got on the board first when Kyle Russell laced a one-out double to left center, advanced to third on a Russell Moldenhauer single and scored on a Brandon Belt groundout in the second inning. Texas added a run in the top of the fifth when a David Hernandez groundout scored Moldenhauer, who had walked to lead off the inning. Missouri tied it with a two-out rally vs. Ruffin in the sixth on Jacob Priday's two-run blast.

"I made a mistake and he capitalized," Ruffin said post-game.

After being held in check much of the game, both teams threatened over the later frames, but neither team could push across a run in regulation.

Texas, aiming for four straight wins over the Aggies, takes on No. 1 seed Texas A&M Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Horns are off Friday before taking on No. 8 seed Oklahoma, which Texas took two of three from during the regular season, Saturday at 9 a.m.

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