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Monday, May 25, 2009

Texas beats Tigers for Big 12 crown

Longhorns, from left, Preston Clark, Austin Wood, Travis Tucker and Michael Torres hold the Big 12 baseball tournament championship trophy. Texas beat Missouri, 12-7, for the tournament title Sunday in Oklahoma City. Story on page 3B.

Longhorns, from left, Preston Clark, Austin Wood, Travis Tucker and Michael Torres hold the Big 12 baseball tournament championship trophy. Texas beat Missouri, 12-7, for the tournament title Sunday in Oklahoma City. Story on page 3B.

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— Sporting a banged-up hand and a new nickname, Cameron “four-finger” Rupp still was able to provide the pop that pushed Texas to its fourth Big 12 baseball title.

Playing with his right ring finger bandaged up, Rupp hit a grand slam during an 11-run outburst in the fourth inning as the top-seeded Longhorns beat Missouri, 12-7, Sunday to repeat as conference champions.

“It felt a lot better today than it did yesterday, that’s for sure,” said Rupp, who split his finger open a day earlier when he smashed against a Kansas State player’s bat while trying to throw out a baserunner from behind the plate.

Rupp moved from catcher to designated hitter and had the big hit in an inning filled with free passes from the Tigers. He earned a hearty pat on the back from his coach, who called him “four-finger Rupp” in his postgame news conference.

It took four relievers to get out of the fourth after Missouri starter Scooter Hicks (5-3) let the first two hitters reach base. Texas’ big inning was fueled by four walks and two batters who were hit by pitches.

Rupp then delivered the exclamation point with a line drive that cleared the 400-foot mark in center field to make it 11-1.

The Longhorns (41-13-1) became the first team to win back-to-back titles since they pulled off the feat in 2002 and 2003.

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