When you’re on a two-game losing streak, you’ll take a win any way you can get it.
The No. 7 Longhorns (18-7) got one of the uglier variety Tuesday night, holding on to beat Oral Roberts (8-10) by a score of 2-1 to snap out of their slump.
After a scoreless first inning, Texas made its move in the second. With one out, Lucas Kephart drew a walk on a full count and was pushed to third after Tant Shepherd smoked a double to left field. The next pitch, Kevin Lusson lined a double just down the right field line to bring in both runners, his first hit since March 15 against Texas State.
“There were runners on second and third so my objective was to get the ball on the right side,” Lusson said. “The guy was throwing cut fastballs so I knew it was going to come in to me, so I looked for that. It was a great feeling, especially given that the final score was 2-1.”
Texas’ offense stagnated after the second inning, garnering just one more hit the rest of the game and going down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Sam Stafford went four innings on the mound for the Longhorns, allowing four walks and giving up one earned run off of three hits.
“I got myself into a little bit of trouble with some walks and had some guys who put the bat on the ball,” Stafford said. “Fortunately, the bullpen was able to pick me up today.”
Andrew McKirahan (3-0) picked up the win in his inning-long relief of Stafford, then handed the ball off to Kendal Carrillo, who made quick work of the next two batters he faced, causing two groundouts.
“I think Stafford and the pitching staff did a very good job,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “We played excellent defense behind them, and we’re a team structured for that.”
With runners on the corners in the top of the seventh inning, Corey Knebel was called out of the bullpen and doused the Golden Eagles’ rally, getting Brandon King to fly out to left field. The save gives the freshman his sixth of the year, a big one on a night when the Longhorns’ turned in a poor performance. Of their three hits, Texas’ lowest output all year, two belonged to Shepherd.
“Our pitching and defense were awesome tonight,” he said. “Offensively, our timing was off; we had a lot of people out on the front foot, it’s something we can fix. It’s a problem right now because we’re not getting hits, but it’s something we’ll work on the next few days.”
As long as Texas’ pitching and defense continues to shut out opponents, Garrido doesn’t look at the offensive struggles as such a bad thing.
“When we do come out of this slump, we’ll know how to solve those problems if we start slumping again,” he said. “We have to have the ability and grit to win games like this. You take wins any way you can get them.”