Texas claims series, Big 12 title

Texas' 5-4 victory over Texas A&M on Sunday not only gave the Longhorns their sixth consecutive series victory over the Aggies, but it also netted their third Big 12 Championship in four years. Burnt Orange Beat has a report from Sunday's rubber match.

Sunday's rubber match between Texas and Texas A&M came down to a pair of bang-bang plays.

Luckily for the Longhorns, both plays went their way, and they held on for a 5-4 victory over the Aggies.

The win gave Texas its sixth consecutive regular season series victory over the Aggies.

About an hour after Austin Wood struck out Dylan Petrich to end the game, the Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated Oklahoma, guaranteeing Texas' third Big 12 Championship in the last four seasons.

Back in Austin, the Longhorns established momentum by jumping all over the Aggies from the start.

Texas A&M starter Barret Loux retired just two of the eight batters he faced, and he didn't make it through the first inning.

Brandon Belt drew a walk after Travis Tucker knocked a one-out double down the left field line, putting runners on first and second with one out, setting the stage for the first of two close plays.

Russell Moldenhauer hit a ground ball to shortstop Adam Smith, who stepped on the bag and fired to first. The throw clearly beat Moldenhauer, but first base umpire Dave Yeast ruled that A&M first baseman Luke Anders' foot was never on the bag.

Texas A&M Head Coach Rob Childress felt Moldenhauer was out.

"Russell Moldenhauer is one of the slowest guys on their team without question," Childress said. "Luke caught the ball and put his foot back down on the bag from what I saw. It's pretty routine."

Then the Aggies came unraveled.

After two errors from third baseman Caleb Shofner, a walk, a hit batter, and a single, the Longhorns had scored five unearned runs on just two hits in the first inning, giving them an early 5-0 lead.

Texas Coach Augie Garrido is famous for saying ‘expect the unexpected' in big situations. After Tim Maitland got the unexpected start—just his second of the season—he came through with the big two-run single in the first.

"There were two outs and I just stepped in the box thinking they were going to give me a pitch to hit," Maitland said. "The first good pitch I saw, I just wanted to react to it and do what I can. I hit it, it went between first and second, and two runs scored."

Although all five runs came with two outs, Childress doesn't blame the game on one disputed call.

"It didn't cost us the game," he said. "It didn't cost us a run. We still had our opportunity with two outs to get out of that inning, and we didn't do that."

Freshman right-hander Taylor Jungmann made just his second Big 12 start for the ‘Horns, and he wasn't at his best on Sunday.

Still, Jungmann battled. Despite allowing seven A&M baserunners through the first four innings, he managed to keep the Aggies off the scoreboard.

Texas A&M made its first big rally in the fifth inning when consecutive singles from Brodie Greene, Brooks Raley and Anders loaded the bases with nobody out. Jungmann then walked Kyle Colligan to score a run before Joe Patterson knocked a two-run single into left field.

In the blink of an eye, Texas' lead was cut to 5-3 and the Longhorns had nobody out in the inning.

Texas Head Coach Augie Garrido turned to Austin Dicharry, who helped the ‘Horns get out of a big jam on Friday night.

The freshman struck out Shofner, leading to one of the season's most bizarre plays, and the game's second important bang-bang play.

With men on second and third and one out, David Alleman hit a tapper back to Dicharry. The pitcher tossed the ball home, getting Colligan into a run-down between third and home. Rupp chased Colligan toward third base and tagged him just before he got back.

But then Rupp looked up. He saw Patterson running from second to third. Rupp dove across the bag and tagged out Patterson before he reached third. The 1-3 fielder's choice, 2-unassisted double play was completed, and the Longhorns were out of the inning with their lead in-tact.

"I was focused on getting one out and holding on to the ball," Rupp explained. "That was huge that we could capitalize on his mistake that he made by starting to run. I just let it happen.

"I didn't notice the guy coming to third until right as he was about to dive. And that's when I said I'm diving."

Childress says Patterson should have already been on the bag.

"That was a baserunning mistake on Joe's part," he said. "We're going on contact with one out there, and he should have been standing on third base as soon as the run-down ensued. He should have been standing on third base."

The Longhorns weren't able to take advantage of their new momentum offensively. Texas A&M's veteran, hard-throwing relievers—Kyle Thebeau and Alex Wilson—combined to provide 7.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just three hits and walking one.

A&M put together one more rally in the seventh after Dicharry walked the leadoff hitter. Garrido called on closer Austin Wood, who had a rough game against the Aggies on Friday night.

Wood plunked the first hitter he faced and then gave up an RBI double to Shofner, making it a one-run game.

The senior showed off his short memory by retiring the inning's last two hitters on a strikeout and a groundout.

The southpaw surrendered one single in each of the final two innings, but the Aggies weren't able to bring the runner home either time.

With the win, the Longhorns improved to 36-12-1 on the season, and their 17-9-1 record in Big 12 Conference play clinched the outright Big 12 Championship.

Texas is also virtually assured an NCAA Regional host and a top 8 national seed, as their BoydsWorld.com Pseudo-RPI is currently tied for second in the nation, just .001 behind first-place Cal State Fullerton.

Garrido was happy to get the win, but he knows the Longhorns' season is just getting started.

"We've got the tournament, then we've got the regionals and super regionals," Garrido said. "Then you've got your bracket in the College World Series. And then you have your two-out-of-three playoff for the national championship. So, our season is just beginning."

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