Texas Takes Two from Nebraska

The Longhorns entered this weekend's series against the last-place Nebraska Cornhuskers desperately needing a series win -- and possibly even a sweep -- to keep pace with the top of the Big 12. On Friday, they got off to a good start with a sweep of the doubleheader.

LINCOLN, NE - Playing its fourth doubleheader of the season, the Texas Longhorns (23-8, 8-6 Big 12) took both games from the homestanding ‘Huskers (16-17, 4-10) by the scores of 7-5 and 11-7, respectively.

In both games, Texas took advantage of Nebraska's shoddy pitching [they entered the day with an 8.33 ERA in league play] and a hard wind blowing out to right field.

Tant Shepherd and Cameron Rupp entered the game with no home runs on the season, but they both belted opposite-field round-trippers to give the ‘Horns an early 3-0 lead in game one.

Texas' lead expanded to 5-0 in the fourth inning by way of a Kevin Keyes triple and a Connor Rowe sacrifice fly.

Sophomore Chance Ruffin has been the Longhorns' most consistent starter this season, but he, with the help of three Texas errors, allowed the ‘Huskers to close the gap to 5-4 game through five innings.

Taylor Jungmann proved to be Texas' savior out of the bullpen once again, as he limited Nebraska to just one run on one hit in 3.1 innings. Meanwhile, the Longhorns added solo runs in the sixth and seventh to expand their lead to 7-4.

The ‘Huskers entered the day with a six-game losing streak, including a 15-0 loss to in-state rival Creighton on Tuesday night, but they showed fight for the first time in awhile.

Nebraska's late-game momentum didn't appear to carry over to the nightcap, as the Longhorns jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in their first four turns at bat.

Included in the onslaught was another Rupp home run and two doubles from Shepherd. The Texas bats have now scored at least six runs in each of their last five games, and Shepherd says their confidence is sky-high.

"I think [our confidence] is a lot higher than it used to be," Shepherd said. "It has also kind of raised our pitchers' confidence. I think the difference between us now and us last week -- it's just a whole new team."

The game appeared to be well on its way to the 10-run mercy rule, which was in effect after seven innings because of the doubleheader.

But the suddenly scrappy Cornhuskers fought back once again.

Like Ruffin, game two starter Brandon Workman didn't have much command, leading to a season-low 3.2-inning start. He surrendered a season-high five runs, all of which came in the bottom of the fourth and cut the Texas lead in half at 10-5.

Longhorns Head Coach Augie Garrido was impressed by Nebraska's fight.

"They fought, they never gave up, they made it as tough on us as possible," said Garrido. "They capitalized on the two errors we made with five runs, so they were opportunistic. They played a much better game than that scoreboard shows."

After the bullpen trio of Keith Shinaberry, Kendal Carrillo and Andrew McKirahan combined to allow two runs in two-thirds of an inning, freshman righty Austin Dicharry was brought into the toughest spot of his young career.

Dicharry ended another Nebraska rally in the fifth inning, and he continued to hold Nebraska scoreless in the sixth and seventh. In all, he blanked the ‘Huskers for 2.2 innings, surrendering just one hit and fanning five.

Despite the difficult assignment, Dicharry says he wasn't at all fazed by the situation. "When I came out, there were a lot of fans and a lot of momentum and everything," Dicharry said, "but when you get in the zone, you really don't hear or see that. I just tried to get in there and throw strikes. Preston and Coach Johnson called a great game."

The Longhorns will go for their first ever series sweep of Nebraska on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Central. Sophomore Cole Green will take the mound for the ‘Horns, facing off against Nebraska right-hander Casey Hauptman.

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