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Problems persist in the Longhorns bullpen as No. 10 Texas is swept by No. 8 Oklahoma State

Danny Davis
Austin American-Statesman
Texas coach David Pierce watches from the dugout during a game against Texas-Rio Grande Valley on April 5. On Sunday, the Longhorns collapsed after taking a 7-0 lead over Oklahoma State in the Cowboys' 10-8 victory at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. It's the first time Texas has been swept at home since 2017.

Zane Morehouse on Sunday was unable to finish what Lucas Gordon started.

Coy Cobb couldn't do it either, Jared Southard didn't fare any better and by the time Luke Harrison finally did, it was too late for Texas.

The 10th-ranked Longhorns needed five pitchers to get through a disastrous seventh inning in a 10-8 loss to No. 8 Oklahoma State at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Cowboys scored all of their runs in the seventh as UT blew a 7-0 lead.

It was Texas' first time on the wrong end of a Big 12 series sweep since a 2019 trip to Kansas. And the Longhorns hadn't been swept at home since 2017. Oklahoma State (31-13, 13-5 Big 12) also earned an 8-6 victory Friday and a 14-3 victory Saturday.

"Devastating loss, devastating sweep," Texas coach David Pierce said.

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Texas (31-16, 9-9) jumped out to a 7-0 lead Sunday. But over a span of 45 minutes, that 7-0 advantage turned into a 10-7 deficit.

Gordon, who was sensational through the first six innings, gave up a leadoff single in the seventh. Then he walked a batter. Morehouse was called out of the bullpen, but he retired just one batter. He hit one Cowboy with a pitch, walked in a run with the bases loaded and then surrendered a three-run double.

Cobb was Texas' next hope out of the bullpen. Taking the mound trying to protect a 7-4 lead, he proceeded to also plunk a Cowboy, then walked a batter and then lost the lead when OSU's Griffin Doersching hit a grand slam.

Texas' next pitcher, Southard, then walked the only two batters he faced.

Texas pitcher Zane Morehouse, shown throwing a pitch against Baylor last weekend, was roughed up by Oklahoma State after relieving Lucas Gordon in the seventh inning of Sunday's 10-8 loss at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Finally, Harrison got the last two outs for Texas. He still gave up an RBI single along the way, and Oklahoma State tacked on one more run on that same play when the Longhorns committed an error.

"We gave up seven free passes," Pierce noted. "That's how teams get back in a ball game when you're down by seven. So that was the common theme. That's the thing you've got to avoid."

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During the first pitching change in the seventh, the Disch-Falk speakers blared Avenged Sevenfold's "Nightmare," which is Morehouse's preferred warmup song. The game became just that. Texas hadn't given up double-digit runs in one inning since Oklahoma State scored 10 times in the eighth frame of a 15-0 blowout in 2019.

"We've got some work to do in the bullpen," catcher Silas Ardoin said. "We've just got to keep our heads down, keep going to work. This game is very humbling."

Texas pitcher Lucas Gordon reacts after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in a 10-8 loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday May 1, 2022 in Austin, Texas

Saturday's 14-3 loss was also another stunning stumble for the Texas bullpen. In 18 Big 12 games, Longhorns relievers are 2-4 with a 5.81 ERA and only one save. In four of Texas' nine conference losses, the bullpen lost a lead.

"I'm very surprised it has struggled as much as it has," Pierce said. "I do know there's some newbies, there's some youth, but just all at once, kind of a snowball effect is really affecting this team. We can only push the starters so far; we've just got to get better in the bullpen. It's that simple.

"They need to maybe take a break, get away from baseball for 24 hours tomorrow, maybe not even show up at the park until Tuesday," Pierce continued. "It's not about not working. I think sometimes they want it so bad, they don't know how to get there."

Texas will likely fall out of D1Baseball's top 10 when this week's poll is released Monday. The Longhorns are on the bubble in terms of being chosen to host an NCAA regional.

Had Texas swept Oklahoma State, the Longhorns would have climbed into a first-place tie with TCU in the Big 12 standings. Instead, they tumbled to sixth.

Key play: In the bottom of the seventh inning, Texas was on the brink of an immediate response to Oklahoma State's 10-run outburst. But with two runners aboard, Mitchell Daly grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Texas finished with eight hits. Three of the team's four homers on Sunday were hit by Ardoin, Skyler Messinger and Dylan Campbell over consecutive at-bats in the second inning.

Notable number: 11. Gordon struck out a career-high 11 batters. The sophomore allowed three hits, issued two walks and retired 13 straight Cowboys at one point.

Up next: Texas has one home game on this week's schedule. The Longhorns will host Houston Baptist on Tuesday (6:30 p.m., LHN, 104.9) for the first time since 2012. Texas is at West Virginia this coming weekend.