Texas has an All-American closer, a third baseman that’s batting over .400 in his last 19 games and two starting pitchers who gave up one run between them in 14-and-two-thirds collective innings during UT’s last series against Oklahoma State. But the Longhorns’ best player may very well be sophomore right fielder Mark Payton. The 5-foot-8-inch, 165-pounder from Chicago, who has reached base in all of Texas’ 33 games this year, is certainly the team’s pound-for-pound top player. And he proved why in the three-game series against OSU this weekend.
On Saturday, Payton made his presence felt at the plate.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Payton strolled into the batter’s box with one out in the eighth inning and the game tied 2-2. Payton, a left-handed batter, took advantage of a strong wind blowing out toward left field by lifting a pitch from Cowboys hurler Vince Wheeland to the opposite field.
The ball was hit to the same place Payton’s double the night before was hit. But this time it cleared the wall instead of ricocheting off of it. Payton circled the bases after hitting his second home run of the year, giving the Longhorns a 3-2 lead. They won the series finale and rubber match by that score, making it four Big 12 series in a row that Texas has triumphed in.