Errors, emotion, ejections, deficits and rallies - the opener to the much anticipated three-game baseball series between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns had it all on Friday night.
Texas took advantage of a nightmarish start by Oklahoma pitcher Corey Copping to score six runs in the top of the first. Copping didn't survive the inning on the mound, making his exit with two outs in the inning, and the Longhorns were sitting pretty. However, the Sooners completely erased their deficit in the bottom of the third when they batted in six runs, off five hits, to even the game at 6-6.
The third inning also saw Oklahoma Coach Pete Hughes get ejected when arguing with first base umpire Randy Bruns. It wasn't Bruns call to toss him though, rather it was second base umpire Jeff Henricks who called for the ejection which adds a bit of controversy to the mix.
With Hughes sent to the club house, Assistant Head Coach Mike Anderson took the helm and just about guided the team to the win. Oklahoma took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Sheldon Neuse doubled down the left field line, scoring Hunter Haley on a throwing error, and then came home on a sacrifice by Anthony Hermelyn.
Scoring eight unanswered runs had the Sooners in control of the game and the crown firmly behind them. "You got to be really proud of the kids. Down 6-0 on a Friday night and we battled back," Coach Anderson said. Unfortunately the Longhorns still had some fight left in them though.
Back-to-back doubles by Texas to lead off the seventh brought them to within one run at 8-7 and then a single by Tres Barrera, to the left side, scored Ben Johnson to even the game at 8-8. The top pitching staff in the Big Twelve then took control by holding the Sooners hitless through the final three innings and sending the game into an extra frame.
C.J. Hinojosa led off the 10th with a solo shot home run that put Texas back on top for good. The Longhorns would also plate Madison Carter in the extra frame, on a bases-loaded walk, and carried a 10-8 lead going into the bottom half.
A lead-off walk by Sheldon Neuse gave Oklahoma some hope once again but it quickly faded. Anthony Hermelyn struck out looking, and was ejected after arguing the call, then Niko Buentello and Mac James popped and grounded out to end the game.
Oklahoma is going to look back at this and see it as an opportunity that they let slip past them. They are a young team, but you really can't use that excuse anymore. It is a team that needs to both start and finish strong.
"It's OK to be disappointed right now," Anderson said of his team. "They expected to win!" With an 8-6 lead, going into the seventh, there were a bunch of people expecting a Sooner win. Now, they have two games left over the weekend to turn that expectation into a reality.