Pierce pieces together bullpen game to stave off elimination, advance to Big 12 Championship game


Jonathan Sherchand/The Daily Texan

Redshirt senior Tristian Stevens throws a pitch during the Alumni game on February 5.

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

After Texas dropped Saturday’s first game to Oklahoma State, the Longhorns eventually topped the Cowboys with a meticulously-pieced together bullpen and a timely afternoon nap to advance to the Big 12 Tournament Championship game.

Texas’ offense remained dormant throughout the morning game due to a heroic 106 pitch performance by Cowboy pitcher Ryan Bogusz. The Longhorns hit a mere five balls off the right hander, only one of which drove in a run. 

Texas’ pitching staff didn’t alleviate any stress on the batting lineup, allowing ten hits, including three doubles and a home run, and propelling Oklahoma State to a 9-1 victory. Since the tournament consists of a double elimination format, the teams would have to meet again in an elimination game to decide who would advance to the championship.

With about four hours in between the games, sophomore Trey Faltine took a nap.

“I came in (the media room) and saw Trey’s feet under the table,” redshirt senior Tristan Stevens said. “I think it was a pretty good nap.”

Following a few hours of rest and recovery, the Texas batting lineup took no time gaining momentum in the second inning. With bases loaded off a single, a walk and a throwing error, Faltine ripped a pitch in between second and third base, sending a Cowboy diving for the shortstops’ ball. 

Before Oklahoma State could get a hold of the drive, sophomore Silas Ardoin crossed home plate, giving Texas its first lead of the day, 2-1, drawing the crowd into cheers.

While the Longhorns failed to score again in the second inning, the energy spilled over into the third. 

Picking on bullpen pitcher Hueston Morrill, redshirt seniors Austin Todd and Murphy Stehly played small ball, sending pitches into the infield and towards the mound for the pitcher to field. 

With two outs and the bases loaded, Faltine stepped up to the plate again, blasting his third pitch down the third base line and bringing home three Longhorn baserunners.

“Faltine had a big game for (Texas),” said Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State head coach. “He delivered a victory run double and timely hitting, especially with two outs.”

Head coach David Pierce’s squad held Oklahoma State batters at bay with his pitching staff, pieced together and highlighted by five pitchers throwing for one to two innings each.

Redshirt freshman Andre Duplantier II started on the hill for the Longhorns, dishing out 37 pitches in two innings, with redshirt sophomore Jared Southard, freshman Luke Harrison, redshirt senior Marcus Olivarez and Stevens pitching in relief.

As a unit, Texas allowed a mere five hits and two runs in the 9-2 victory, as a comparison to the earlier game’s 10 hits.

“(I’m) really proud of them because they’ve had some hits this year,” Pierce said. “Honestly, they did their jobs. It’s an awesome team win for us.”

Stevens notes that after the Oklahoma State matchup on May 1 when the bullpen allowed 10 unanswered scores in the seventh inning, the complete win is encouraging for the team. 

“If there’s a time to put it all together, why not now and in the postseason?” Stevens said.

The Longhorns needed a strong week if they were to jump back into the conversation of hosting an NCAA regional in Austin. With timely wins against Oklahoma State and TCU under their belt in the tournament, Texas appears to be in good position regardless of what happens on Sunday against Oklahoma. 

“The resume says it,” Pierce said. “We’re playing (for) a championship in the Big 12. I definitely think we should host.”