Unlikely Heroes Propel Longhorns

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Everything was set up perfectly for Texas heading into Saturday. The Longhorns were in the winners’ bracket at the Big 12 tournament, which earned them a day of rest Friday while TCU had to play an extra game. But the Longhorns did not get a great start out of Kyle Johnston, and the Frogs got seven strong innings out of Mitchell Traver in a 9-2 win, forcing a rematch later Saturday to decide which team would advance to Sunday’s Big 12 title game.

And once its perfect plans had been spoiled, Texas found a way to win behind some less likely heroes. Freshman righthander Blair Henley delivered six innings of strong work, allowing just two unearned runs, and catcher Michael Cantu went 3-for-5 with a huge three-run homer to power the ‘Horns to a convincing 9-3 victory.

“Today was about these two guys right here,” Texas coach David Pierce said, gesturing to Cantu and Henley sitting to his right. We had a great battery. Blair Henley did a great job at changing speeds, pitching inside, utilizing all four of his pitches. Michael did an unbelievable job defensively, as well as really getting the big blow and creating a little cushion for us. It was a tremendous team win.”

Henley, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander, has some front-side funk and deception in his delivery that can make his 88-91 fastball tough to pick up, and he located it well Saturday, especially on the inner half. He mixed in an effective short slider at 81-82, a bigger 12-6 curve in the mid-70s and a changeup against lefties.


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