Earlier in the season, Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys might have made a nice teaching moment in the locker room for Texas head coach Augie Garrido.
The Longhorns stampeded back from a 4-0 deficit through five and a half innings and shook off early inning offensive woes to show that they have the talent to hang with the best of the Big 12, but it wasn’t enough to win the game.
With just eight games left to play in the regular season, teaching moments are at a premium and teaching after a loss is becoming harder and harder for Garrido.
“What do we say to the players when you have a difficult weekend like this?” Garrido said. “You tell them the truth. We’ve got about a month to be together as a team. We’ve seen the good side of our team and we’ve seen the negative side of our team.”
The Texas offense, which made little impact in the first two games of the series, made its presence known in the early going of Sunday’s season finale, though not always in the best way.
The Longhorns put runners in scoring position for six straight frames after the first inning, but despite all the base runners, they found themselves without a run after five complete.
Texas got rather creative in finding ways to kill rallies with everything from strikeouts, to outfield-assisted double plays, to botched attempts to advance on wild pitches leading to a 4-0 deficit headed into the bottom half of the sixth.
“If you’re going to lose consistently, there’s certain things you have to do,” Garrido said. “They’re the wrong things at the right time. It’s almost like winning.”
But Texas’ offensive fortunes reversed after that. The Longhorns rode four free passes and an RBI single off the bat of freshman Tyler Rand to cut the deficit to 4-3 Cowboys in the sixth. One inning later, sophomore shortstop Joe Baker sliced a line drive single over the head of Cowboy second baseman J.R. Davis to score freshman third baseman Kody Clemens and even the score at four.
Longhorn confidence was riding high — but Cowboy composure, it seemed, was just a bit higher.
Oklahoma State responded to the Texas comeback by ripping off four runs against the bullpen in the eighth inning, deflating the Longhorns’ offensive resurgence.
Texas wouldn’t get a hit after that, and an inning later, the curtain set on an 8-4 loss and a sweep at the hands of the visiting Cowboys.
“It doesn’t hurt as much if you get beat 8-0,” Garrido said. “But when you give yourself a chance and then you lose it, that’s when it hurts.”
Despite the tough loss and the long odds for the postseason, neither Garrido nor his players are willing to throw in the towel.
“We’re not going to quit,” Sunday’s starter sophomore Kyle Johnston said. “We’re not done yet.”