Longhorns Baseball Handles Rice Behind Offensive Explosion; Tennessee Game Open Thread

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
-------------------------------------------
Texas............... 021 061 001 - 11 13 3
Rice................ 201 000 311 - 8 9 0
-------------------------------------------

Texas baseball scored just five runs last weekend on 13 hits against Stanford. By contrast, in last night's 5th inning the Horns managed six runs on seven hits leading to an 11-8 victory over Rice that wasn't really as close as the final score might indicate. Starter Nathan Thornhill picked up the victory, working through some early control and team defense issues to pitch six nice innings before unraveling in the top of the 7th inning. By that time, however, the Texas offense had built a 10-3 lead behind strong efforts from Tim Maitland, Jonathan Walsh, Brooks Marlow and Erich Weiss (9-17 combined) as well as timely extra base hits from Jordan Etier and Alex Silver.

Porous defense by the Longhorns and dubious umpiring cost Texas big time tonight and allowed Rice to sneak their way back into the game. Brooks Marlow made a two run error in the bottom of the 1st, ranging to his right nicely with the bases loaded and two outs but throwing a one-hopper to Kevin Lusson at first that the senior couldn't snag. Does Brandon Belt make the save at first? Probably. But it was a difficult play and the Horns just aren't making those these days. Texas took advantage of five Rice walks in the top of the 2nd to tie the score at 2-2 and pulled ahead 3-2 in the 3rd after a Jonathan Walsh leadoff double.

The Owls tied the score in the bottom of the 3rd after the first base umpire missed Kevin Lusson's foot clearly touching the bag on a high throw from Jordan Etier. The error should have been a routine play, but poor defense combined with terrible umpiring led to another Rice run.

The 6th inning started with singles by Maitland and Weiss and a sacrifice bunt by the suddenly hot hitting Walsh. Sophomore Alex Silvers may have earned himself substantially more playing time by roping a two RBI double down the left field line which made the score 5-3. Following a Felts walk and a fly out, Jordan Etier tripled to the gap in left center and the Horns were up 7-3. The Horns tacked on two more runs in the inning, which only ended as Mark Payton attempted to take advantage of a miscue by the Rice catcher on a throw back to the pitcher. Replays showed Payton appearing to score but the home plate umpire called him out and the best Texas inning in quite some time was over.

The Horns would build the lead to 10-3 before Nathan Thornhill imploded in the 7th, perhaps left in by Augie to determine just how far he could be pushed. Freshman Parker French pitched admirably in relief, giving up a solo homer and an unearned run in three innings and picking up his first career save. Augie mentioned after the game that Knebel was unavailable and would hopefully be able to go today if needed.

The win gives Texas a win over a sometimes heated rival, a win over a top five team and the Horns' first signature win of the season, all of which will hopefully help to rebuild Texas' confidence going forward. The Horns will face Tennessee at 3:30 today looking to at least ensure a "series win" in Houston.

This can be your open thread as Hoby Milner takes the mound.

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