Thearon W. Henderson
Texas used excellent pitching and defense along with just enough perfectly executed small ball to beat Nebraska 2-0 on Sunday securing a series sweep. The Horns will face Stephen F. Austin at 5 PM before traveling to Palo Alto for a huge series next weekend.
If Friday's 8-2 win was a far closer game than the final score might indicate and Saturday's 4-3 walk-off win was exactly just as close then Sunday's 2-0 win didn't feel near as close as a two run game should feel. Nebraska managed just two hits and never managed to get a runner past first base as Nathan Thornhill (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and Corey Knebel (2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K) absolutely dominated a good Husker lineup.
Taylor Stell scored a run in the fourth after getting hit by a pitch, stealing second and scoring on Mark Payton's RBI double. Small ball produced another run in the sixth when Payton singled, was bunted to second and scored on a Jacob Felts single. Texas' 2-3-4-5 hitters ended the day 6-12 with both Texas runs.
Some random takeaways from the weekend that was:
Texas got 6 innings from all three starters for the first time since an April 2011 series against Missouri. Inconsistent starting pitching devastated Texas in 2012 and it's nice to see Texas' preseason starting rotation pitching so well no matter the competition. The Horns have a bevy of good young pitchers should any of those three struggle and it'll be an interesting competition during weekday games to see who will be the preferred first guy out of the bullpen.
The Horns stole three bases bringing their season total to 18 steals on 22 attempts. Texas is averaging 3 steals a game at an 82% success rate which compares extremely favorably to last year's 1.1 steals per game at a 76 percent success rate.
CJ Hinojosa's defense is improving by leaps and bounds. On Sunday even Hinojosa's throwing error ended up bouncing directly off the wall and enabled Codey McElroy to tag out a bumbling Husker baserunner. Hinojosa had three errors through his first two collegiate games but has been clean defensively ever since.
Mark Payton is hitting .500 through 7 games with 10 RBI and a 1.223 OPS. If he keeps this up he'll win every award out there. He won't, but it's still a nice thought.
Corey Knebel is looking like Corey Knebel again. He added two saves this weekend giving him three on the year, just 10 short of Huston Street's team record.
The Horns will face an above average Sam Houston State Bearkats squad tonight. Texas saw Sam Houston in October during fall ball. First pitch is at 5 PM and the game is available on the Longhorn Network. Per TexasSports.com it'll be Chad Hollingsworth making his second career start.
This will be Texas' last tuneup game before a trip to Palo Alto next weekend will give us a real gauge of just how good this Texas team is.