Freshmen Carry Horns to Title Game

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Taylor Jungmann provided a career-high 7.2 innings for the Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon while Brandon Loy had two big base hits. Burnt Orange Beat takes a look at the victory that helped put the 'Horns in Sunday's Big 12 Championship Game.

Call it the Big 12 retribution tour for the Longhorns.

Texas entered this week's Big 12 Tournament with a combined 0-5-1 record against the league's two Kansas schools.

After Saturday's 4-2 defeat of Kansas State, the ‘Horns have eliminated both from contention for the Big 12 Championship.

The win propelled the Longhorns into Sunday's Big 12 Championship Game against the Missouri Tigers, who qualified by defeating Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon.

Texas got a huge boost from freshman starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann, who tossed a career-high 7.2 innings on 124 pitches en route to his seventh victory of the season.

The tall right-hander yielded just two runs—one earned—on five singles. He walked two and struck out four.

"I struggled against them last time," said Jungmann, who suffered the loss in one of UT's regular-season contests against the Wildcats. "I came out and threw strikes and went right at them. That's all I had to do. I mixed in all three pitches, which really helped."

The Longhorns threatened early and often, with the leadoff hitter reaching base in five of their first six innings. But they didn't get on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth, when Brandon Belt began the frame with a double to right-center field.

Russell Moldenhauer bunted Belt over to third, setting up Preston Clark for the sacrifice fly, which gave the ‘Horns a 1-0 lead.

K-State answered by plating a pair of runs in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Carter Jurica and a run-scoring error off the bat of freshman Nick Martini.

The error was committed by Longhorns shortstop Brandon Loy, who entered the game with just three miscues on the season, including zero in Big 12 regular-season play.

That was just the beginning of his highly dramatic afternoon.

Loy would go on to commit two more errors, doubling his total for the season. However, only the first proved to be costly in the run column.

Connor Rowe tied the game with his run-scoring single in the Texas fifth, and Loy came through with a two-out hit in the sixth, giving Texas a 3-2 lead.

Loy produced in the clutch once again with his eighth-inning, two-out infield single that scored Travis Tucker and extended the Longhorns' lead to 4-2.

Although Loy's two late-inning hits proved to be the difference for the Longhorns, his mind remained focused on the errors.

"I take a lot of pride in my defense," said Loy, "and I don't have many of those days. I don't make many errors. It's just something that doesn't usually happen, and you've got to overcome it."

Despite the errors, Loy had some positive impact in the field, helping turn two double plays in the last three innings. The freshman also made an excellent leaping catch to snag a liner off the bat of third baseman Jason King, ending the eighth inning.

Texas Head Coach Augie Garrido was impressed with Loy's ability to battle back from the errors.

"[Brandon] showed the experience to stay with his game even though he had a tough day," said Garrido. "When he turned over the double play, if he rushes through that one, we may have a problem.

"But I feel like he has the ability and the confidence in himself to stay within his own game and move on like this has never happened."

Senior closer Austin Wood recorded the final four outs for the Longhorns. He surrendered one hit, but stranded that runner at first when he fanned Dane Yelovich to end the game. The southpaw picked up his 14th save of the season.

Garrido believes Saturday's contest was well-played, much like all three regular season contests between the two clubs.

"I thought it was a really good college baseball game," Garrido said. "I think both teams put the ball in play hard and it really got down to some timely hitting. The baseball gods were pretty kind to us today. The balls went through when they needed to."

With a win on Sunday, the Longhorns can win both the Big 12 regular season and tournament championships for the first time since 2002, when they also won the national title.

The game will begin at 1:00 p.m. CST, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

Sophomore right-hander Brandon Workman is probable to get the nod for the Longhorns, while Missouri will most likely go with a number of pitchers, as they have done for much of the season.

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