OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Texas Longhorns were sent home from the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a 4-2 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday afternoon at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Kansas (22-33) jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first and the Longhorns were never able to make up the deficit. It marked the first time Texas was eliminated after two games since 2001. In 2010, Texas went 0-3 in pool play at the tournament.
Tucker Tharp drew a walk to start the home half of the first. Kevin Kuntz bounced a bunt back to the pitcher’s mound in an attempt to move Tharp to second. Longhorns’ starting pitcher John Curtiss elected to go to second with his throw, but it was late giving Kansas a pair of base runners. Jason Stanfield placed a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single and Tharp scored when Erich Weiss’ throw to first on the play sailed wide of the bag. Kuntz also moved to third on the error allowing Zac Elgie to knock him in with a grounder to short, giving Kansas a 2-0 lead. The Jayhawks lead grew to 3-0 when Chris Manship doubled to the gap in left centerfield.
The Longhorns got a run on the board in the top of the third inning. Mark Payton led off the inning with a wall-banger to left field for a double and scored when Erich Weiss bounced a single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
The Jayhawks added an insurance run in the fifth when Stanfield singled through the right side of the infield for a two-out RBI single, giving Kansas a 4-1 lead.
Texas (30-22) mounted a late rally but it came up short. With one out, Taylor Stell drew a five-pitch walk and Jordan Etier followed with a single through the right side of the infield. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Stell scored when Kansas’ first baseman made an error on a ground ball by Kevin Lusson, but Lusson was thrown out at second for the second out of the inning. With Kansas leading 4-2, Brooks Marlow drew a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Payton struck out swinging to end the game.
In four of the first six innings, the Longhorns got a runner to third base but were unable to drive them in and Texas ended the game with the tying run on first base.
Wes Benjamin (5-7) earned the win for Kansas. He allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out two over 6.0 innings. Robert Kahana earned his second save of the season. He surrendered one run on one hit and two walks while striking out two over 3.0 innings.
Curtiss (2-3) took the loss for Texas. He yielded four runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five over 6.2 innings. Hoby Milner worked the last 1.1 innings retiring all four batters he faced, including two strikeouts.
Manship led all hitters at the plate going 2-for-3 with one double, one triple and one RBI. Stanfield went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.