OKLAHOMA CITY — Texas collected 11 hits in a 5-4 win over Kansas at the Big 12 tournament on Thursday. But for their most-important hit, the Longhorns turned to their bench.
Thursday’s decisive run was scored in the sixth. With left-handed pitcher Chase Kaplan emerging from the Kansas bullpen and Longhorns on second and third base, Texas coach David Pierce had Jake McKenzie pinch-hit for Patrick Mathis. With one out, the junior drove in a run with a double to the left field wall.
— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) May 26, 2017
McKenzie’s double gave Texas a 5-2 lead.
“Just a tremendous job from more than just the starters, guys like Jake coming off the bench,” Pierce said. “Really just a great team win.”
McKenzie was boasting a .077 batting average, having gotten a single hit in his 13 at-bats this season. Mathis, who was the team’s leadoff hitter and right fielder, was 2 for 2 with a walk on Thursday.
Pierce, however, said that McKenzie was one of his best contact hitters, which is what UT needed in that situation. McKenzie’s right-handed bat also gave Texas a matchup advantage against Kaplan; Mathis bats from the left side.
“I just liked the matchup, I liked Jake’s confidence in that situation,” said Pierce, who had discussed the possibility of pinch-hitting McKenzie during a similar situation against Oklahoma on Wednesday. “He did a great job coming off the bench.”
The versatile McKenzie holds a 3.45 ERA over 15.2 innings as a pitcher. He has started twice at third base and been used as a designated hitter and second baseman. He’s also the only Longhorn not named Kacy Clemens to play at first base this season.
For good measure, the two-time Big 12 all-academic honoree is studying petroleum engineering.
McKenzie, though, has not logged any time in the outfield, so he was replaced by Tate Shaw in the top of the seventh inning. Shaw wasn’t the only edit to Texas’ outfield; Austin Todd subbed in for left fielder Travis Jones in the fifth inning. (When he entered, Shaw was Texas’ left fielder and Todd shifted to right). Tyler Rand was a defensive substitution in center field in the ninth.
“Some of us were joking, how many teams can finish the game with three different outfielders than they started the game with,” McKenzie said. “I thought that was pretty cool, so it says a lot about our team.”
Crazy comeback: West Virginia never led until extra innings, but six runs in the 10th led to a 12-7 stunning of Texas Tech at the Big 12 tournament. With the win, the Mountaineers eliminated the tournament’s top seed and the third-ranked team in D1baseball.com’s national poll.
Before it ran away from the Red Raiders in extra innings, West Virginia overcame a two-run deficit with an out in the ninth. To being the comeback, Jackson Cramer singled in a teammate with a hit to right field. Cramer’s single, though, turned into the game-tying run when outfielder Ryan Long misplayed the ball and Cramer beat the throw home.
🎥 WOW. We knew Jackson Cramer was clutch, and he sends us to the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying single and 3-base error. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/uAvMKINsiH
— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) May 27, 2017
West Virginia advances to play Oklahoma State at 9 a.m. on Saturday. West Virginia (34-23) and Oklahoma State (28-25) have split their four games this year, but the Cowboys’ most-recent win in the series was an 8-4 triumph on Thursday.