Horns Drop First to Kansas State, 4-2

Coming into Friday night's game against the Texas Longhorns, Humble native and Kansas State ace A.J. Morris had a 9-0 record with a 1.31 earned-run average. On Friday, he looked every bit as good as his gaudy numbers, pitching his second complete game of the season to lead the Wildcats to a 4-2 victory.

Morris was actually a bit shaky early on, giving up two runs in the first four innings.

In the first, Texas leadoff man Travis Tucker reached on an error by shortstop Drew Biery, and a wild pitch advanced him to second. After a Michael Torres bunt single, Brandon Belt laid down a perfect RBI sacrifice bunt to give the ‘Horns a 1-0 lead.

"I thought [Morris] was overthrowing," said Kansas State Head Coach Brad Hill. "I thought he was overthrowing big time in the first couple of innings. He was bringing the ball all over the place."

Texas starting pitcher Chance Ruffin is known for his toughness, and he showed it from the outset. Ruffin stranded five runners in the first three innings, keeping Kansas State off the scoreboard.

"The defense played a big role in that," said Ruffin when asked about getting out of the jams. "Obviously there was one where Tucker made a great play for me. As a starter, you're going to get yourself into jams and you expect yourself to be able to work out of them."

The Longhorns added to their lead in the fourth with more perfect execution. Kevin Keyes began the frame with a sharp single that ricocheted off Morris. Catcher Cameron Rupp moved him over for a perfect sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for a Kevin Lusson RBI single to right field.

"That first at-bat I had trouble seeing his slider," Lusson explained. "Coach said just to be aggressive. I took that approach up to the plate and I was looking for that slider. That's what he threw, and I just hit the ball as hard as I could."

Ruffin retired nine consecutive K-State hitters in the middle innings, keeping the Texas lead in-tact until the top of the sixth.

With one out in the sixth, KSU cleanup hitter Justin Bloxom belted a solo home run into the wind in right-center field, cutting the lead to 2-1.

Two pitches later, Jason King deposited a ball into the Wildcats bullpen, and the Longhorns' lead was erased.

"They weren't bad pitches," said Ruffin. "The first one, he went down and got a fastball below his knees and he hit it well. The second one, early in the count it was a breaking ball. They took big hacks all night and eventually just connected with them."

Meanwhile, Morris was just getting comfortable. The junior right-hander allowed only one total baserunner in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. He displayed impeccable command of his 88-90 mph fastball and good slider, keeping Texas from squaring balls on the barrel of the bat.

The Longhorns turned to senior closer Austin Wood with men on the corners and two outs in the seventh. The southpaw struck out left fielder Nick Martini to end the threat.

Wood entered the contest with a 1.55 ERA, no losses, and no blown saves on on the season.

But sometimes it's just not your night, and that was the case on Friday. With the help of a Jason King stolen base, a pair of seeing-eye singles from King and Biery gave K-State a 3-2 lead.

That was all Morris would need. The Texan finished the game by scattering eight hits and surrendering just one earned run in nine innings.

"I'm not going to lie," said Morris of pitching well in his home state, "it's always a good feeling."

Despite the loss, Garrido felt his Longhorns had an all-around solid effort.

"The reality of it all is that we went out and played quality baseball and they beat us," he said. "We executed well and got baserunners on. We only left one baserunner in scoring position.

"I'm disappointed that we lost, but not by the way we lost. We lost to a team that won the game."


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