No. 10 Texas loses bullpen battle to No. 8 Oklahoma State to open crucial late-season series

Jordan Mitchell, Senior Sports Reporter

In No. 10 Texas baseball’s 8-6 loss against No. 8 Oklahoma State, head coach David Pierce said that his ball club “fought and clawed the entire game.”

What started out as a pitching duel between redshirt sophomore Pete Hansen and Oklahoma State’s Justin Campbell through the first four innings quickly evolved into a grueling game of cat and mouse for the two Big 12 rivals.

Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth, graduate transfer infielder Skyler Messinger blasted a leadoff solo shot 420 feet out to left-center field, exploding the crowd into chants of “Skyler” before sophomore left fielder Dylan Campbell stepped up to the plate.

With all 7,202 fans packed into UFCU Disch-Falk Field on their feet, Campbell found Texas’ sweet spot against the left-center field wall for his fourth double of the season, putting the left fielder into scoring position.

Despite sophomore Mitch Daly and redshirt sophomore Trey Faltine drawing outs, the second base-shortstop duo took turns advancing Campbell on the bags, bringing in the second run of the inning and shrinking Texas’ deficit to one run.

With two outs, redshirt sophomore Douglas Hodo III battled at the plate against Justin Campbell to keep the rally alive. With a 2-2 count, the center fielder batted off four fouls before launching a 3-2 pitch out to the center-field wall for extra bases.

Texas’ designated hitter, redshirt senior Austin Todd, then brought Hodo III home with a single, tying up the ball game at four runs apiece heading into the sixth inning.

“We’re a resilient team, and we always pride ourselves on being able to respond,” Messinger said. “We like having that adversity.”

However, Texas never snatched a lead from Oklahoma State’s grasp. While the Longhorns responded to the Cowboys’ runs up until the ninth inning, the game wound up as a battle of the bullpens. 

Hansen kept it close in his taxing seven innings facing gritty Cowboy batters, but he experienced his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs and four home runs before sophomore Aaron Nixon replaced him on the mound.

“I don’t think Pete (Hansen) was as sharp from the first pitch,” Pierce said. “I think he battled (and) gave us everything he had, but I don’t think he was as sharp as he’s been this year.”

While Nixon shut out Oklahoma State in the eighth inning, the closer hit a Cowboy batter with a pitch and allowed one single and a double in the ninth, putting Texas in a two-run deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. 

Attendees belted out Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer,” hoping for a couple of Longhorn runners to see success in their final chance at the plate. However, the offense didn’t respond to the Cowboys for the first time in the game, with Oklahoma State’s Nolan McLean retiring Texas’ top-of-the-lineup in order for the win.

“We can’t walk two guys in the ninth and expect to dodge those bullets,” Pierce said. 

In Texas’ loss, Faltine played hero-ball defending at shortstop. In the first inning, the Richmond, Texas product fully extended his right arm for a theatrical snag, and recorded one putout and five assists on the night.

Faltine flexed his fielding wizardry again in the top of the eighth when Faltine fully extended to catch a tossed ball from Messinger for a 5-6-3 putout.

“He’s a great leader and a super valuable part of this team,” Messinger said. “I love playing the left side of the infield with him.”

Despite dropping the first game of a crucial late-season series, the Longhorns will still have two more cracks at Oklahoma State this weekend.