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Ninth-inning double lifts No. 8 Oklahoma State past No. 10 Texas in opener of Big 12 series

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman
Texas entered the weekend with an opportunity to gain ground in the Big 12 race, but Friday night's 8-6 loss to Oklahoma State dropped the Longhorns from third to fifth.

Three times Friday night, Texas rallied.

But the Longhorns needed a fourth comeback.

Zach Ehrhard's two-run double in the ninth inning was the difference in Oklahoma State's 8-6 series-opening win at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. With the victory, the eighth-ranked Cowboys (29-13, 11-5 Big 12) grabbed a slight lead over TCU in the conference race. No. 10 Texas (31-14, 9-7) slipped from third to fifth in the congested standings heading into the final two games of the series.

"Tomorrow's a new day," UT third baseman Skyler Messinger said. "We're gonna come out and we're gonna bring it and we're just gonna be us." 

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At various points, Texas faced 1-0, 4-1 and 6-4 deficits. The Longhorns evened the score each time.

In the eighth inning, Messinger homered to force a 6-6 tie. Oklahoma State finally landed a knockout punch in its next at-bat.

In the ninth, OSU leadoff hitter Marcus Brown was hit by an Aaron Nixon pitch, and Caeden Trenkle then looped a single to right field. Two outs later, Ehrhard drove Nixon's 1-0 pitch into left. Dylan Campbell made a diving attempt, but the ball reached the wall for a double, and two runs scored.

Nixon was saddled with his third loss of the season. The right-handed reliever exited the game with a 3.55 ERA. Texas coach David Pierce said he did not think about pulling Nixon for Lebarron Johnson, who was warming up in the bullpen.

"We're still just not in a spot where we just have that guy right now," Pierce said.

Needing one last rally, Texas sent the top of its order to the plate in the ninth. Cowboys closer Nolan McLean, who started at third base and homered Friday, retired Douglas Hodo III, Austin Todd and Ivan Melendez in order.

"McLean was just lights out," Pierce said. "He had a quick, electric arm. He's going to pitch for a long time."

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Playing in front of an announced crowd of 7,202, the teams combined for 23 hits. Oklahoma State hit four home runs. Texas went deep three times. Oklahoma State's David Mendham and Messinger each smacked two homers.

Texas pitcher Pete Hansen gave up six rus and nine hits in seven innings. "I don't think Pete was as sharp from the first pitch of the game," coach David Pierce said. "I think he battled on guts. He gave us everything he had."

Neither of the team's ace pitchers factored in the decision. Oklahoma State's Justin Campbell gave up eight hits and four runs over five innings. Texas left-hander Pete Hansen worked seven innings but was tagged for nine hits and six runs.

"I don't think Pete was as sharp from the first pitch of the game," Pierce said. "I think he battled on guts. He gave us everything he had, but I just don't think he was as sharp as he's been this year."

Key play: Trailing 4-1 in the fifth, UT scored three times during a six-hit inning. Texas had a chance to swing the game in its favor, but Campbell struck out Silas Ardoin with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Two innings later, Ardoin missed out on another opportunity to give Texas its first lead. With two runners on and one out, he hit into a double play against a shifted Oklahoma State defense.

Notable number: 4. Melendez finished with four hits. In addition to hitting his 22nd home run, he singled three times. With his 4-for-5 performance, Melendez raised his team-leading batting average to .416.

Up next: The second game of this series is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Texas will start Tristan Stevens (5-4, 4.50 ERA) on the mound while Oklahoma State goes with Bryce Osmond (3-1, 4.40) as its Saturday starter.