AUSTIN, Texas — As Oklahoma’s Hector Lorenzana sprinted to second base in the eighth inning Sunday afternoon, he caught Kolbey Carpenter motoring toward home out of the corner of his eye.
Lorenzana’s double in the left-field gap had just given the Sooners a two-run lead against Texas, and two runs felt like 10 in the final game of the Red River Rivalry series at Disch-Falk Field.
“I was pumped when I saw Carpenter rounding third. I knew we had a great chance of winning the ball game,” Lorenzana said.
The Sooners did, 4-2, claiming their first series against the Longhorns since 1998.
OU coach Sunny Golloway said he didn’t know it had been 15 years since it last occurred. However, his team played the way Texas did in so many of those losses it handed the Sooners during that period. In the rubber game of the series, OU (27-6, 7-2 Big 12) out-pitched Texas (17-13, 3-6), and clutch hits belonged to OU, too.
“Their pitching was terrific, their pitching was outstanding. We did pitch just a little bit better,” Golloway said.
Sunday, the Sooners’ pitching staff pieced together a third straight dominant performance.
Starter Adam Choplick allowed two unearned runs over 2 2-3 innings. The bullpen held the Longhorns scoreless over the final 6 1-3, allowing just two hits and three base runners over that span.
“Our pitching keeps us in every game and it keeps us calm out there. We know we just have to score a couple runs,” said OU second baseman Jack Mayfield, who went 3 for 5 and scored the game-tying run in the eighth inning on Max White’s RBI single. “Today we only scored four runs, and we got the win. If we keep pitching like this, we’re gonna be in a great spot the rest of the year.”
Billy Waltrip (2-1) only faced one batter, but he fanned Texas Erich Weiss with a runner at second to end the seventh inning.
Jake Fisher and Ralph Garza Jr., shut the Longhorns down in the four previous innings.
Jacob Evans closed out the final two innings to get his fifth save of the season and second in the series.
With the exception of Fisher, all those pitchers are first-year players. Whatever, demons had affected the Sooners in past meeting with Texas didn’t bother them. The partisan crowd of 6,246 didn’t influence them either.
“It’s a huge environment, but you feed off of it and let it get the adrenaline flowing,” Evans said.
White, a senior, had been on the field eight losses in nine tries to Texas prior to the series and was a player who talked openly about the struggles OU had against the Longhorns.
However, he wasn’t thinking about those when he got a full-count slider from Texas closer Corey Knebel, who took the loss to fall to 3-2, and slapped it into right field.
“It was a clutch moment for me. I haven’t had too many of those and I hope to have more,” said White, after going 3 for 4. “To block the atmosphere and have the right approach against Knebel … taking a slider the other way was what I wanted to do and what I did.”
The victory has OU perched atop the Big 12 standings with a one-game lead over Kansas State after three series. Texas is now tied with TCU for last place after dropping its sixth straight conference series dating back to last season.
Fortunes for the rivals seemed to have switched. The Sooners finally beating the Longhorns and doing it in Austin certainly signals as a switch has occurred. For years, Texas beat the Sooners with dominant pitching and clutch hitting.
It reversed this weekend. The Sooners only allowed four runs in the three-game series, winning 2-1 on Friday before dropping Game 2 1-0.
“It took me four years, but we finally did,” said Mayfield, a senior. “The one thing that kept us in it was our pitching. UT only scored four runs all weekend. Putting our team in a position like that gives us a great chance for success.”
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