Roaring start evens Red River Rivalry series

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Senior pitcher Ty Culbreth looks to take a big jump in the pitching rotation after Texas lost last year’s ace Parker French to graduation.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Texas ace Ty Culbreth had one of his shakiest starts of the season, but an offensive awakening rendered the senior’s struggles irrelevant.

After shutting down in Friday night’s series opening loss, Texas’ offense erupted out of the gate Saturday with a four-run first inning that proved to be the only offense necessary in a 5-3 road victory against the Sooners.

The Longhorns started off the away half of the first by putting two on with one out for the middle of the order. Hot-hitting junior third baseman Tres Barrera and sophomore cleanup hitter Patrick Mathis then ripped back-to-back doubles to plate three early runs.

Two batters later, a throwing error by catcher Dominic DeRenzo failed to catch freshman outfielder Tyler Rand stealing second, allowing Mathis to score from third to make the score 4-0 Texas before a failed squeeze bunt and a fly out ended the inning.

The Sooners jumped back into the game in the second inning. An RBI single by freshman designated hitter Chris Andristos, who also pitched 7.2 innings of one run ball in the Sooners’ win Friday, and a sac fly off the bat of DeRenzo quickly cut the Texas lead in half.

Culbreth continued to struggle with the Sooner lineup, surrendering eight hits over his six innings of work. But the southpaw never let things get out of hand and allowed just those two earned runs and another unearned tally off of an error in right field by Mathis.

Oklahoma starter Ryan Madden, on the other hand, recovered from his bumpy first inning and faced the minimum in innings two through five to keep the host Sooners competitive throughout the entire game.

Texas got a little bit of breathing room in the sixth when freshman Kody Clemens walked and then sprinted around the basepaths to score on another RBI double by Mathis.

But after Culbreth’s exit in the sixth, the shaky Longhorn bullpen was tasked with preserving the delicate two-run lead.

Freshman pitcher Chase Shugart, who entered the game riding a wave of strong performances after a series of initial struggles, erased the bullpen concerns and pumped a few 96 mile-per-hour fastballs past some helpless Sooner bats to face the minimum in the seventh and eighth innings.

Senior pitcher Travis Duke, sophomore pitcher Connor Mayes and junior pitcher Josh Sawyer then collaborated on a scoreless ninth to cement the 5-3 victory and even the series up at one win apiece.

The Longhorns will send right-handed sophomore Kyle Johnston (1-1, 3.34 ERA) to the mound Friday in the rubber match of the three game weekend series.