Bullpen, offensive woes cost Texas series opener in 2-1 loss to Oklahoma

JT Bowen, General Sports Reporter

Just two nights after putting up 20 runs, the Longhorns could only muster one against Oklahoma on Friday. The game was a microcosm of Texas on a bad night this season: a solid pitching start negated by shoddy bullpen work and anemic offense. Bats were cold on both sides, but the Sooners’ pitching held up the whole way to hold Texas to six hits and help them squeak out a 2-1 victory.

“We had an opportunity, we just didn’t take advantage of it,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “They were better than us tonight.” 

Junior ace Lucas Gordon continued his terrific year, tossing nine strikeouts to six hits and allowing just one run in seven innings. The leftie shaved his ERA down to 1.84, which comfortably leads the Big 12 and now ranks in the top-10 of NCAA Division I pitchers.

“Outstanding,” Pierce said of Gordon’s night. “Did a great job of controlling the run game, a great job of just attacking the strike zone and making them earn it.”

The Longhorns took the lead in the second inning on a drawn walk by junior shortstop Mitchell Daly with the bases loaded to score junior catcher Garret Guillemette. However, with the bases still loaded and just one out, the Longhorns were unable to tack on any more runs in not only the inning, but the rest of the night.

Texas executed arguably the play of the night in the top of the second when junior second baseman Jack O’Dowd corralled a hit near second and flipped it to Daly, who tagged the base and loaded up to throw a laser to freshman first baseman Jared Thomas to close the inning on a double play.

However, the Longhorns were burned by a pair of inopportune double plays on the offensive end, one by junior second baseman O’Dowd in the fourth inning that wasted a Jared Thomas triple and another by redshirt junior left fielder Porter Brown in the sixth on a ground ball that took an unfortunate bounce right to the Sooners’ second baseman.

The Sooners knotted the game up in the top of the fifth on an RBI-double.

While the offense did them no favors, the Longhorns’ bullpen ultimately cost them the game in what’s becoming a theme of the season. Sophomore David Shaw, who was credited with the loss, left runners on second and third in less than an inning of work and another short outing from junior Heston Tole loaded the bases. Sophomore Ace Whitehead entered and walked his only batter on a full count to give Oklahoma the winning run and keep the bases loaded, but a Jared Thomas flyout in foul territory kept the Sooners from extending the lead any further. 

Despite the loss, Pierce wasn’t displeased with his relievers’ performances.

“I think our guys that came in late in the game pretty much did their job,” Pierce said. “Boogie (Whitehead) was just a pitch away from keeping it tied and I liked the matchup, I liked the look in his eye.”

Whitehead gave Texas a glimmer of hope after a clean ninth inning that kept the Sooners from reaching a base, but the bottom of the Longhorns’ batting lineup couldn’t walk it off, despite Porter Brown singling and reaching second base on a sacrifice bunt to put them in position.

“Obviously you don’t want to lose the first game, but that’s why you play three,” Gordon said. “And we have all the faith in our team to come back and still win the series.”

Texas drops to 27–13 on the year and 8–5 in conference play, and will look to even things up at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday.