A huge fifth inning propelled the Longhorns over the Oklahoma Sooners in Austin on Saturday afternoon, as OU dropped back-to-back contests for the first time all season with a 9-3 loss. OU falls to 26-8 and 4-4 in the Big 12.
Jake Irvin’s first game back from injury for Oklahoma didn’t end quite as planned, as the starter went just 3.2 innings and gave up two runs before getting pulled in obvious pain. While Ryan Madden was able to finish the fourth for him, the wheels came completely off in the fifth inning. Madden retired the first two hitters but walked David Hamilton, who went to third on a Kody Clemens double. In a pivotal moment, Tate Shaw lined a pitch right back to Madden, who knocked it down. But the ball rolled too far away from the mound. Madden was unable to make the play at first, and Hamilton came home to give the ‘Horns a 3-2 lead.
Two batters later, Kacy Clemens hit a grand slam to put the game away.
The Sooners plated two runs in the top of the first as Longhorns starter Morgan Cooper struggled record his first out. He finally caught five-hole hitter Austin O’Brien looking, but not before allowing three singles and drilling Jack Flansburg in the arm. Steele Walker hit the two-run RBI single, but was later thrown out at second trying to steal and Renae Martinez flew out to limit the damage.
The Longhorns were able to respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame, even after Jake Irvin retired the first two UT batters. Travis Jones laced a two-out double to right-center, Martinez missed a high fastball that went to the backstop and let Jones take third, and Kacy Clemens singled through the left side to suddenly narrow the OU lead to 2-1. Brandon Zaragoza ended the inning with a nifty diving stop, flipping the ball to Kyle Mendenhall from the ground to force Clemens out at second.
Cooper cruised through the next several innings — he didn’t allow another OU hit until the seventh — while Irvin was under close observation the whole start. After Kody Clemens blasted a one-out solo homer in the third to even the game at 2, the OU training staff walked to the mound to check out Irvin, who threw a few warmup pitches and stayed in the game.
After retiring the first two Longhorns in the fourth, though, Irvin bent over and rested his hands on his knees, calling for Skip Johnson and clearly in pain. The Sooners finally pulled him and went to Madden in relief, who finished the inning before getting shelled in the fifth and yanked for Braidyn Fink.
Looks like the mystique of Unranked Texas isn't just an OU football problem. https://t.co/Xaz6qTuy8h— C&C Machine (@CCMachine) April 8, 2017
Despite his first-inning troubles, Cooper went on to a masterful 6.2-inning performance and allowed just two hits after the first.
The Sooners return, looking to salvage something from the Austin series tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on Longhorn Network.