Texas baseball returns to action this weekend in Houston at the Houston Classic at Minute Maid Park. Last we saw Texas used six pitchers throwing shutout baseball to blank Houston Baptist 2-0. The Longhorns struck out 10 Huskies and walked only one while allowing just three hits (two infield singles). The offense showed life for one inning, which was enough to get the win, and the Texas defense was hurt again by a pair of errors by the infield. In the six games since sweeping Duke on the season's opening weekend, Texas has scored a grand total of just 14 runs. The task remains difficult for one more weekend before lightening a bit next weekend as the Horns face Rice, Tennessee and Arkansas this weekend. The Horns will play Rice tonight at 7 PM, Tennessee at 3:30 tomorrow and Arkansas at 11 AM on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.
The Horns face #5 Rice on Friday. The Owls enter the game 9-0 although Houston, Dallas Baptist, New Mexico State and Florida International haven't been the toughest of opponents. Friday starter Austin Kubitza will be the weakest ace the Horns have faced this year, which says far more about the quality of Duke and Stanford's front line starters than it does about Kubitza. Kubitza's hasn't lit the world on fire though, with a 1-0 record and 3.86 ERA in his first two starts.
Tennessee will be the Saturday opponent. The Vols come to Houston at 7-1 but have played three extra inning ballgames already this year. In addition, Tennessee's two weekend opponents have combined for a 2-12 record on the year. The Vols have stellar pitching numbers but a surprisingly low .289 team batting average considering the competition (somewhere a Tennessee blogger previewing Texas is having the exact same thought). Saturday starter Zach Godley has been Godly this year, with a 1-0 record, 0.90 ERA, 10 Ks, .158 batting average against and one walk in 10.6 innings over two starts.
Finally, the Horns will face #4 Arkansas on Sunday morning. The Razorbacks are 9-1, having hit nine homers and driven in 81 runs already this year. Arkansas scored more runs in its first two games than Texas has all season. Arkansas' pitching has been good but not world beating and their defense has been worse than the Horns, making 17 errors (Texas has made 12) in just 10 games. Finally, as the below video shows Texas pitchers must be very careful when throwing inside to Arkansas hitters.
Pitching matchups after the jump and this can be your Friday night open thread.
Nathan Thornhill and Hoby Milner are your Friday and Saturday starters for the third straight weekend. Freshman Ricky Jacquez gets his first career start looking to rebound from Sunday's outing (0 IP, 2 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 1 wild pitch).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday, March 5, 2010 - 7 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Nathan Thornhill (1-1, 2.45 ERA)
Rice: RHP Austin Kubitza (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 3:30 p.m. Central
Texas: LHP Hoby Milner (1-1, 4.09 ERA)
Tennessee: RHP Zack Godley (1-0, 0.90 ERA)
Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 11 a.m. Central
Texas: RHP Ricky Jacquez (0-0, 6.43 ERA)
Arkansas: RHP D.J. Baxendale (2-0, 2.45 ERA)