Staffords’ struggles lead to early exit, Texas falls short of weekend sweep Sunday


Corey Leamon

Sam Stafford gets ready to deliver a pitch Sunday at Disch Falk Field against Oklahoma. Stafford had a sub par performance in the game and was pulled from the game in the fourth inning.

Jon Parrett

Texas failed to close out the sweep of Oklahoma on Sunday, falling 5-2 to the Sooners at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Tant Shepherd hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Cohl Walla added another run in the ninth with a RBI single, but it was too little, too late for the Longhorns.

“You saw a difference in performance in the bottom of the ninth inning,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido said. “We violated the inning-by-inning concept. We let them get the momentum, and we never fought hard to get it back until the ninth inning, when you saw a different quality of at-bat.”

Sam Stafford started for Texas (33-11, 15-6 Big 12) but lasted only 3.2 innings. He allowed the leadoff runner on in the first three innings and picked up his second loss of the season.

Cale Ellis led of the third inning with a single for Oklahoma, and consecutive sac-bunts moved him to third base. Then Tyler Ogle slapped a double to right field that scored Ellis.

“I left it up in the strike zone, and he did his job with that RBI double, which was big,” Stafford said.

Garrett Buechele then hit a line drive directly at shortstop Brandon Loy, but Loy tried to backhand the ball and misplayed it for an error, which scored Ogle from second base to put Oklahoma up 2-0.

“He makes that play 99 out of a 100 times,” Stafford said.

Shepherd’s third home run of the season cut into the Sooners’ lead an inning later, but the Longhorns were, for the most part, stagnant on offense. Jonathan Walsh had runners on first and second in the fourth inning but grounded into a double play. He was up again in the sixth with the bases loaded and a full count but swung at pitch out of the zone to strike out and end the inning.

“That was terrible,” Walsh said. “It was definitely a ball, it wasn’t even close. I can’t do that in that situation.”

The Longhorns left eight runners on base, five of which were in scoring position. Texas didn’t get a leadoff runner on base until the ninth inning, when Paul Montalbano walked. Walla lined a single up the middle two batters later, but it wasn’t enough.

“We competed differently in the ninth inning than we did in innings one through eight, and if we can recognize that and get back on the competitive platform to be consistent, then it’s worth a loss,” Garrido said. “If we just blow it off and start making excuses, that’s when we’ll have a problem.”

Though they lost the final game, the fact that they won the series was not lost on the Longhorns. The two wins move them into a tie with Texas A&M for first place in the conference, with only six conference games remaining.