The Texas locker room was quiet immediately following Sunday’s heartbreaking 4-2 loss to Oklahoma — the first series Texas has dropped to the Sooners in 14 years.
“It kills us,” junior right fielder Mark Payton said. “It’s dead silent in there and it hurts us right now, but we’re going to learn from it and move forward.”
The Longhorns handed the ball over to closer Corey Knebel in the eighth inning with a one-run lead, but he was unable to nail down the win. Knebel allowed three runs on four hits in the eighth inning, with the big hits being a game-tying RBI single by Max White and a go-ahead two-run double by Hector Lorenzana with two outs.
Knebel, who had not allowed a run in his previous 11 outings, picked up the blown save and fell to 3-2 on the season.
“He’s human,” pitching coach Skip Johnson said. “Everyone is going to walk out there and fail. It happens. It’s baseball.”
Junior Nathan Thornhill delivered one of his strongest starts of the season, as he limited the Sooners to an unearned run on four hits in seven innings. The right-hander tied his career high with seven strikeouts and punched out five consecutive batters in the sixth and seventh innings.
Thornhill’s lone blemish came in the second inning when his throwing error on a two-out bunt attempt by Garrett Carey scored Kolbey Carpenter from third base. Although he retired the final eight batters he faced and had only thrown 85 pitches through seven innings, Thornhill did not second-guess the decision made by his coaches to bring in Knebel in the eighth.
“I have confidence in Corey,” Thornhill said. “The competitor in me [makes me] want to be out there, but I trust their judgment and they’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have.”
Junior Erich Weiss provided the offense for Texas with a two-run triple in the third inning to give the Longhorns a 2-1 advantage. Texas would only record two hits in the final six innings, however, and failed to push across another run.
With the loss, Texas falls to 3-6 in conference play and is yet to win a Big 12 series this season. The Sooners improved to 7-2 against Big 12 opponents and maintained their one-game lead in the conference standings.
Oklahoma took the first game of the series Friday night behind a dominating eight-strikeout performance by right-hander Jonathan Gray. Dillon Peters had an equally as impressive outing in the Longhorns’ 1-0 win Saturday, as the left-hander held the Sooners hitless through the first seven innings. Sunday’s loss in the rubber match marks the first time Texas has lost a series to Oklahoma in 14 years.
Texas will look to get back into the win column Tuesday when it hosts Texas State. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.