Texas baseball won its fourth straight conference series on Saturday with 5-0 and 3-2 doubleheader victories marked by strong pitching and just enough offense to get the job done. Freshmen Parker French, Ricky Jacquez, John Curtiss and Dillon Peters combined to throw 16 of Saturday's 18 innings, giving up just two earned runs while striking out a combined 18. The Horns were a wild pitch away from a nice sweep this weekend, but a series victory is an okay consolation prize.
French was the major story in the early game. The freshman struck out six Cowboys over eight innings of nearly flawless work, setting career highs for Ks, IPs and pitches thrown with 105. Hoby Milner got the games final three outs to even the series.
Jacquez flashed his talent again in the late game but was in hot water throughout all four innings. Jacquez gave up a pair of runs in the first but managed to escape without further damage. The Cowboys put runners on second and third with no outs in the third inning but a groundout and pair of strikeouts ended that threat. Curtiss gave up a pair of two out singles in his two innings but was overall very solid in relief of Jacquez and Peters picked up the victory by striking out four over two innings while giving up just one single. Milner got the late game save giving Corey Knebel a much needed day off.
Offensively, the Horns managed only 12 hits in 17 at bats on Saturday, continuing Friday's rough showing. The normally reliable 3-4-5 combination of Erich Weiss, Jonathan Walsh and Alex Silver finished weekend at a miserable combined 4-34 (.117). In the late game, Taylor Stell nearly single-handedly brought Texas back from the early two run deficit. Stell was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 1st and scored from first when Weiss doubled to right center. The lanky freshman narrowly beat out the throw at the plate and there's probably not another player on the Texas roster with the pure speed to score on that play.
Stell then singled with one out in the 3rd with the Horns trailing 2-1. He stole second and advanced to third when the catcher's throw sailed into center. Weiss grounded to the pitcher and Stell flew home when the pitcher didn't walk him all the way back to third. The throw to the plate was late and the catcher's tag was high knotting the game 2-2. Cowboy pitcher Vince Wheeland more or less shut down the Texas offense until the 8th. Wheeland pitched a gem (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER), but a Mark Payton drive to left got caught in the jet stream in the bottom of the 8th and landed in the Texas bullpen to give Texas the deciding 3-2 lead.
A 3-1 week brings Texas baseball's record to 20-13 and 16-6 since leaving Houston in early March. Texas State comes to town this week heading the opposite direction. When the Horns and Bobcats met on March 13th it was ranked Texas State that came in to play unranked Texas. Texas State is 8-9 since and visits Austin this Tuesday following a series loss to Southeast Louisiana this weekend.
Following Tuesday's tilt with Texas State the Horns will host Big 12's worst team in Kansas. A 4-0 week is certainly possible and anything less than 3-1 will be disappointing. The Horns find themselves in third place in the Big 12 and will need to keep pace with Baylor and A&M as the series with the Aggies is coming up quick.
Speaking of the Aggies. Last night's men's tennis victory brings Texas within half a point of clinching the final Lone Star Showdown. Women's tennis plays A&M on Tuesday, and a loss there would leave it to baseball to clinch the following weekend.
The GTFO tour is almost complete.