OU v West Virginia Baseball

FILE PHOTO — OU's Devon Perez pitches the ball during the Sooners' game against West Virginia, Saturday, March 24, 2018, at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Perez earned a no-decision Saturday in OU's 5-3 loss to Texas. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

It happened again.

Texas rallied from three runs behind with a pair of eighth-inning runs to stun 18th-ranked Oklahoma 5-3 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The Longhorns leapt past OU for first place in the Big 12 baseball standings after Zach Zubia hit a two-run home run in the eighth to snap a 3-3 tie, putting Texas ahead for good.

Texas (24-13, 10-3 Big 12) recorded two home runs for the game and proved difficult to put away — just like a night earlier when the Longhorns rallied with three runs in the ninth to win.

OU, which has lost three consecutive Big 12 games after an 8-0 start, will try to avoid a sweep when the series concludes at 1 p.m. today.

The Sooners (25-13, 8-3 Big 12) built a 3-0 lead in Saturday’s first inning, benefitting from Cade Harris’ leadoff walk and an error before Steele Walker’s single to right field made it 1-0. Brady Lindsly and Kyle Mendenhall each followed with RBI-singles to pad the lead.

It wasn’t enough.

Sooner starting pitcher Devon Perez worked into a fourth-inning jam with two walks and a hit, before Duke Ellis doubled and brought the Longhorns within 3-2. Texas slugger Kody Clemens tied the game in the fifth while facing reliever Levi Prater, belting his second solo home run of the weekend.

Zubia pulled the curtain on Prater’s night with his two-run blast in the eighth.

Texas inserted Nolan Kingham — who was slated to start Friday but didn’t — as a reliever and he kept the Sooners tamed for the final four innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six to earn his fourth victory this season. Walker hit a ball to the warning track against Kingham in the sixth inning, but howling winds kept it in the park.

Prater struck out six batters, but the home runs were costly. The freshman pitcher (2-2) lost for the second time this season.


Extra Frames

• Murray time: Kyler Murray faced a big stage for his baseball-football balancing act for the second straight weekend.

So far, this one hasn’t gone as smooth as the last.

Murray played quarterback in OU’s spring football game a few hours before Saturday’s first pitch, but went 0 for 5 at the plate and is 0 for 10 in two games against the Longhorns.

He was ill earlier this week, but after the football game said he’s OK health-wise.

Last week, he hit a critical two-run home run in the series opener against TCU, before flying back to Norman for a football practice and returning to Fort Worth that day for the series’ remainder.

• Loyal crowd: It’s been a tough weekend for the Sooners’ home fans weather-wise.

Saturday, temperatures were in the 30s by the 8 p.m. first pitch, but wind chills made it feel like 31 degrees.

That didn’t stop an estimated 3,003 from showing up, besting a crowd of 2,331 on Friday, when gusting winds blew thick smoke from northwest Oklahoma’s wildfires into the air.

Inside the game

By Saturday’s fourth inning, OU pitchers had only surrendered three walks in the series.

Each was extremely costly.

Devon Perez’s first two walks occurred in the fourth, helping load the bases with two outs for Texas left-handed hitter Duke Ellis, who slapped a two-run double down the left-field line to get the Longhorns within 3-2.

The Sooners didn’t issue a walk on Friday until the ninth inning, when Austin Hansen put on the leadoff batter to kickoff Texas’ three-run rally that helped the Longhorns rally for a 7-6 victory.

On deck

The series concludes 1 p.m. Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. OU is expected to start right-handed pitcher Nathan Wiles (1-1, 4.04 ERA) against Texas right-hander Blair Henley (5-3, 2.92).

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