Texas Outlasts Tech 9-5 in Opener

The Texas Longhorns entered Friday's game with a rough 2-4 Big 12 start and need a solid weekend homestand to get back in position in the Big 12 standings. Friday night's game featured a clutch hit from Cameron Rupp and some battling from pitching ace Chance Ruffin.

Texas Tech fifth-year senior Miles Morgan entered Friday night's contest with one career start against the Texas Longhorns. In that 2006 outing, Morgan tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out a career-high 15 batters without issuing a walk.

Morgan has run into some tough luck since that freshman season. A severe rotator cuff injury limited the hard-throwing Lubbock native to just one total appearance in 2007 and 2008.

On Friday night, Morgan appeared to be a shell of his former self. The right-hander threw only 39 of his 84 pitches within the strike zone. His lack of command turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for the struggling Longhorns offense.

With the help of the Red Raiders' (10-16, 3-4 Big 12) seven walks and five errors on Friday night, the Longhorns (16-6, 3-4 Big 12) posted their highest run output in four weeks, earning a 9-5 victory.

While the ‘Horns got some help from the Red Raiders, they also hit the ball hard, played aggressively, and made productive outs.

The Red Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third – partially due to a wind-aided solo home run – but the Longhorns came storming back with five of their own in the bottom of the frame.

With the bases loaded and one out – and the Longhorns down 2-1 – catcher Cameron Rupp came up with the game's biggest hit. The Plano native belted a bases-clearing double into left-center field. The hit gave the Longhorns a 4-2 lead, and they would never look back.

"I went up there and wanted to get a pitch up – elevated – so I could hit the ball in the air and get the runner in from third," Rupp said. "The first pitch, he hung a curveball and I hit it into the gap and scored all three."

Following a Brandon Loy sacrifice fly, Texas came away with five runs in the third inning. The Longhorns had not scored five runs in an entire game since March 14 against the Missouri Tigers.

The scrappy Red Raiders offense clawed its way back into the game by scoring two more runs in the fifth inning, cutting the deficit to one run. But Longhorns starter Chance Ruffin battled through the fifth and ended up pitching 1.2 additional scoreless innings before giving way to closer Austin Wood.

When the dust had settled, Ruffin surrendered four runs on nine hits in 6.2 innings, walking none and fanning eight. Although it wasn't one of his better outings statistically, Texas Coach Augie Garrido was impressed with the performance.

"I was really proud of Chance Ruffin," Garrido said. "He just battled. He really, really competed…I just think he had a lot on his hands to deal with, and he dealt with it all."

The score remained 5-4 until the bottom of the seventh, when the game quickly began to get away from the Red Raiders. The inning started innocently enough, with reliever Louis Head getting Preston Clark on a strikeout.

Cameron Rupp ignited the rally by reaching on an error by Head. After Rupp advanced to second on a balk, the wheels fell off – and they fell off fast.

Seven hitters later, Texas had batted around and scored four runs without hitting a ball out of the infield. The Longhorns had three infield singles, and they were assisted by four Texas Tech errors [two on Head, two on All-Big 12 second baseman Willie Rueda] and a balk. The sloppy inning helped give the Longhorns a 9-4 lead, effectively putting the game away.

"It was a two-part play," said Garrido of Texas' two explosive innings. "The first part, we kind of wrote the lyrics and wrote the script for that one…The second one, we battled, put balls in play with two strikes, they made some mistakes, and we capitalized on them. They were very different innings."

When Texas was swept by Kansas last weekend, the Jayhawks made just one error in the three-game series. After Texas Tech made five errors on Friday night, Rupp says it felt good to finally catch a few breaks offensively.

"That's baseball," Rupp said, with a smile. "You've got to move on and keep playing. When you get breaks, you're going to get a lot of confidence and that's going to turn yourself around."

Senior closer Austin Wood finished it off for the Longhorns and, because he entered in a one-run game, the southpaw earned his fourth save of the season.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Central. Brandon Workman (2-1, 1.34) is slated to pitch for Texas opposite Texas Tech's A.J. Ramos (2-1, 2.78).

Horns Digest Top Stories