Baseball tops Oklahoma, stays alive at Big 12 Tournament

27 May By
Team Shop
Texas starter Tristan Stevens allowed four hits, two walks and a run over seven innings to lead the Longhorns to a 4-1 victory over Oklahoma in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Behind Tristan Stevens' near-perfect start, the Texas baseball team added a day to its stay at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament, defeating No. 5 seed Oklahoma 4-1 Thursday at Bricktown Ballpark.

Despite rain midway through the contest and while mustering just five hits, the top-seeded Longhorns bounced back from a 5-1 upset at the hands of No. 8 seed West Virginia, and will play the winner of Friday's matchup between the Mountaineers and Oklahoma State at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening in a game that can be seen on BIG 12 NOW ON ESPN+.

With Thursday's win, Texas eliminated Oklahoma from the conference tournament.

Stevens started the contest, a must-win for the Longhorns after their loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament opener. Typically, the Horns' Saturday starter, the right-hander fired seven innings, allowing just four hits, two walks and a run while striking out four. After throwing 102 pitches, Stevens improved to 9-3 on the year, notching the first postseason victory of his four-year collegiate career.

In many ways, UT's performance Thursday was a complete 180 compared to Wednesday's loss, starting with the fact that head coach David Pierce only had to make one call to the bullpen. Aaron Nixon was the one summoned to the hill in the eighth inning, and closed out the contest with two innings of scoreless relief. The freshman gave up just one hit to the Sooner offense, who finished Big 12 play hitting .269 as a team, and walked just one batter. For the most part, Oklahoma's batters struggled to catch up to Nixon's high velocity, as he fanned four batters, including Sooner pinch hitter Brett Squires, who struck out swinging to end the game.

UT's also was much improved at the plate. Although the Longhorns posted the same hit total for the second straight game, they showed good plate discipline, working the count and making the most of their opportunities with runners in scoring position.

The Horns took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when right fielder Douglas Hodo walked with one out, and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of center fielder Mike Antico. After OU tied the game in the top of the third, the Horns reclaimed the lead when Hodo drove in second baseman Mitchell Daly from first base with a double to the right-field gap.

With a 2-1 advantage, Texas tacked on an insurance run in the fourth, as Antico crossed the plate on a base hit from first baseman Zach Zubia.

After drawing a four-pitch walk in the first at-bat of the eighth inning, Hodo stole second, but only as catcher Silas Ardoin struck out swinging for the second out. A Oklahoma pitching change that put Jake Bennett on the mound did little to mitigate UT's scoring opportunity. Bennett lacked control, walking Antico and heading to the showers before facing another Texas batter. He was replaced by Luke Taggart, who seemed to pick up where Bennett left off, allowing another walk to load the bases, before firing a wild pitch that allowed Hodo to score from third.

Hodo went 1-for-2 on the day, scoring two runs, and was responsible for a third with his RBI in the third. He, Zubia and shortstop Trey Faltine were the only Longhorns to have hit safely in each of the Horns' first two tournament games. Zubia led the Horns offensively, as he went 3-for-5. Faltine was 1-for-3 at the plate.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley