Morgan Cooper (41), left, talks with Michael Cantu (7) between pitches in the first inning of the first game in a series against the Rice University Owls at the University of Texas' UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas on Friday February 17, 2017. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Big 12 tournament notebook: Some rare bullpen work for Texas ace Cooper

Posted May 25th, 2017

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OKLAHOMA CITY — In the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s 8-4 win over Oklahoma, Texas fans may have done a double-take when they saw junior Morgan Cooper on the mound.

With an inning of relief work, Cooper helped the Longhorns bridge the gap between reliever Chase Shugart and closer Beau Ridgeway. Cooper entered the game with Texas leading 6-4. He allowed one hit and struck out two.

Cooper earned all-conference honors this season, but the Big 12 was acknowledging his league-leading 96 strikeouts and 2.33 ERA that the right-hander accumulated over 13 starts. Wednesday was the first time since the third game this season that Texas used him out of the bullpen.

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“He fit right in between Chase and Beau, and it worked out perfectly,” Texas coach David Pierce said.

Pierce said Cooper, who threw 106 pitches against West Virginia last Saturday, was available to pitch since he was scheduled to work out in the bullpen anyway on Wednesday. Following his 21-pitch appearance against Oklahoma, Cooper likely will pitch next on Saturday.

Dancing with danger: Texas Tech, the top seed at the Big 12 tournament, staved off elimination on Thursday with a 4-1 win over Baylor. One day after an opening 3-0 loss to Oklahoma State, the Red Raiders consistently worked themselves out of jams against the fifth-seeded Bears.

Texas Tech was outhit 10-9 by Baylor, but 12 Bears were left stranded on base; Baylor left at least one base runner in each on the nine innings.

Richard Cunningham, an Austin High graduate, drove in Baylor’s only run. That seventh inning double scored T.J. Raguse, who led Georgetown to the Class 5A state title game in 2015.

See ya, Sooners: Oklahoma’s stay at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark ended Thursday with a 9-4 loss to TCU. The Sooners fell into a 9-0 hole in their elimination game, which has become a trend for the team. Oklahoma (34-22) hasn’t held one lead during its current four-game losing streak, and it has trailed by at least four runs during each defeat.

With their wins on Thursday, TCU and Texas Tech both bounced back after surprising tournament-opening losses. (TCU dropped a 7-3 decision to Kansas). In addition to being the tournament’s top two seeds, Texas Tech (43-14) and TCU (40-15) also were the conference’s co-champions in the regular season.

Ranked third and sixth in D1baseball.com’s national poll, Texas Tech and TCU also are favored to host a regional when the NCAA tournament gets underway next week.

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